Powerless Aircraft Sets Altitude Record
Two pilots recently set a new altitude world record for gliders.
A glider is an aircraft that does not have an engine. They are pulled into the air by powered airplanes and then released. They are designed to ride warm, rising air to gain altitude.
The Perlan II glider reach an altitude of 15,902 meters on September 3. The two pilots flew their aircraft above mountains in southern Argentina. The pilots beat the earlier world record for gliders by 441 meters.
The pilots hope the ability of their plane to reach the edge of outer space will influence young people to follow careers in science and engineering.
Reaching new heights
The glider was pulled into the air by a small plane. At about 3,000 meters, the plane released the connecting cable and started looking for strong updrafts of air, called the mountain waves, to take them higher.
According to chief pilot Jim Payne it took eleven flights to reach the altitude record.
"Basically, we take steps of certain amount of altitude and airspeed, gather data, analyze that data and if those data conform to our theory and the model we have for the airplane - then we can safely go on to the next step."
A glider flight at high altitude is very difficult. The glider has no engine to fight turbulence they may encounter.
Also, although the airspeed instrument shows the speed of only 80 to 90 kilometers per hour, the true airspeed can be much higher. At those high speeds, the wings may flutter to the point of breaking.
Also, it is very cold said pilot and project manager Morgan Sandercock.
"We have electric socks on the pilots, we literally could not fly without those electric socks, we would get frostbite. And heated vests and we're looking at upgrading our heating systems for next year because cold is the big issue that we've been dealing with this year."
Investing in the future
The Perlan II glider is made of special kind of light carbon fiber material. It also has improved mechanical properties. The company Airbus helped build the glider and transport it to Argentina.
Ken McKenzie, an employee with Airbus, says the company hopes the project will attract young people to science and technology.
"We want to actually grab the next group of pilots, engineers, mechanics, airport operators, flight attendants, basically kids that are in high school and university right now that may not have considered aerospace as a career and we want to inspire them."
In the future, the pilots hope to break the world altitude record for level flight of 25,929 meters, set in 1979 by the U.S. spy plane called the SR-71 Blackbird.
The pilots also plan to turn their aircraft into a non-polluting research vehicle for the stratosphere.
I'm Phil Dierking.
1.the world record 世界纪录
He has knocked 10 seconds off the world record.
2.fiber material 纤维材料
Fiber material processing is an important branch of materials processing.
3.right now 立刻；马上
If you have a problem with that, I want you to tell me right now.
4.heating systems 加热系统
New irrigation and undersoil heating systems were also installed at the same time as the2003 work.
1.The pilots hope the ability of their plane to reach the edge of outer space will influence young people to follow careers in science and engineering.
outer space 外太空
They have been visited by creatures from outer space.
Exploring outer space is a challenge to mankind.
2.And heated vests and we're looking at upgrading our heating systems for next year because cold is the big issue that we've been dealing with this year."
dealing with 处理；应付
We came up against a great deal of resistance in dealing with the case.
We know we're dealing with someone with a different frame of reference.
滑翔机是一种无引擎的飞行器 。动力飞机将滑翔机拉升到空中后释放 。滑翔机的设计旨在通过上升的热气流带动来增加高度 。
9月3日，Perlan II滑翔机达到了15902米的飞行高度 。两名飞行员驾驶飞行器成功飞越了阿根廷南部的群山 。两名飞行员打破了滑翔机飞行高度441米的世界纪录 。
Perlan II滑翔机由一架小型飞机拉升至上空 。待攀升至3000米后，飞机松开绳索并等待上升气流（地形波）来带动滑翔机继续攀升 。
首席飞行员吉姆·佩恩（Jim Payne）称，滑翔机攀升11次后才到达如今的高度 。
滑翔机很难高空飞行 。它没有发动机，无法应对可能遇到的不稳气流 。
此外，尽管空速仪显示速度仅为每小时80至90公里，但是真正的空速会快得多 。在高速飞行时，滑翔机机翼可能会震颤至断裂 。
飞行员兼项目负责人摩根·桑德尔柯克（Morgan Sandercock）补充称，飞行时的温度很低 。
“我们的飞行员会穿电袜子，如果没有电袜子，根本就无法飞行，我们会被冻伤 。还有加热背心 。明年我们会升级加热系统，因为寒冷是我们今年需要解决的一大难题 。”
Perlan II滑翔机由特殊的轻薄碳纤维材料制成 。其机械性能也得到改进 。空中客车公司制造了这一滑翔机并将其运往阿根廷 。
空中客车的职员肯恩·麦肯齐（Ken McKenzie）表示，空客希望该项目能吸引年轻人关注科学技术领域 。