PUSHING THE LIMITS … or how the Taurus was flying at 9,214 meters (30,229 feet)!
“Cockpit condensation made a fine mesh of tiny crystals on the canopy. It was not just a layer of ice – it was tiny icy crystals. Not the usual form we were used to have at high altitudes. I reached up and wrote the altitude we thought we reached with my hand wearing a black fleece glove – 8,800 meters!! The cheap thermometer showed -45C and then went blank. My glove was covered with tiny white diamonds of water that didn’t melt despite my body warmth. I opened the side window and stuck my hand out for a few seconds. Wooo hoooo!!! Who has the chance to stick a hand out of an airplane almost at the altitude of Mt. Everest! What an ecstatic moment, full of adrenaline and sense of achievement!”
Undampened small yaw oscillations are now present when excited. Before the attempt the team consulted Tine (Pipistrel R&D and test pilot) : ‘”You should have no stability issues, but there may be a possibility that if a yaw is excited, then the tail will not dampen it,” he said. Taurus behaves exactly as forecasted.
“We slowed the aircraft to 90km/hr and the first signs of low speed buffet were present, so we are maintaining 100km/h since the Vne at altitude is now at 130km/h! We attempt few shallow turns. The controls significantly stiffer. Aluminum rods contracted by the cold were to blame. The aircraft flew magnificent!! We were impressed.”
Another deep breath with the heart rates significantly raised and the pounding heart beat evident. At these heights there is no man’s land. Anything could go wrong.
We look at each other and with a great disappointment we turn the Taurus to the lee side of the wave and start a shallow descent.”
The frost on the titanium wing pins remained there for a more than an hour. The O2 bottle is practically empty. All the gadgets are slowly blinking back into life.
We just don’t mind! This flight will remain in our hearts and minds for ever…. Or at least until the next wave season.”
• Pipistrel Team for the support and the great glider that keeps proving itself
• Mountain High Oxygen systems for their support and for keeping us literally alive
• LX Navigation
• Bigatmo sunglasses for protecting our vision