Space Glider Finds New Home in Minden

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MINDEN, Nv - A historic space glider is preparing to break world records in summer 2016. The Airbus Perlan glider is making waves in aviation starting in Minden.

The mountain waves of air are what Jim Payne loves about flying his glider over the area. Those waves will help him fly in Argentina where he plans to break a world record this summer.

"Minden, Nevada has some of the best waves in the United States," said Payne. "We're on the cusp of doing exploration to the atmosphere."

He'll be flying the Airbus Perlan Mission II around Minden for the next several months to prepare for his flight up 90,000 feet up into the air. At that high up, pilots will need oxygen masks. The glider is designed to be pressurized so pilots feel like they're in space, but on an airplane.

"We expect to find strong winds, we call turbulence, the sky will be very dark because you're above most of the atmosphere so there's not air to diffuse the light and cause it to be blue," he said.

In a glider, there is no engine so you have to fly in rising air.

This glider has the wingspan of 83 feet, which is double that of a regular glider's.

As it attempts to break world records this summer, it gives us a closer insight as to why pilots are choosing Minden as their number one destination.

The mission is not only to break a record, but to also understand what's in the atmosphere.

"We have all these global warming models that say it stops at the stratosphere and that's wrong," said Allan McArtor, the CEO of Airbus Group. "The atmosphere mixes, like you would mix anything, how does that work and how do the ozones get created over the poles?"

It's a way to stimulate young minds and to get them interested in the science of tomorrow, where the sky isn't the limit.

"The sky is where we live, this is where we innovate, this is where we educate and where we set records," McArtor said.

The Airbus Perlan will make its way to Argentina this summer.