Idaho pilot with long standing altitude record reveals the risk and effort it takes

Idaho pilot owns altitude record in tiny plane
Posted at 12:32 AM, Jul 11, 2018

Record holders In the aviation world are considered the top of the pyramid, and one pilot who 22 years ago climbed into his tiny, single engine, piston-powered aircraft and set an altitude record that hasn't been beaten to this day.

This fantastic aircraft Jim Price used is called a Long -EZ.

"I call it my magic carpet," says Price

To the uninitiated, it may look like a backwards egg beater with wings. But this tiny plane has reached astonishing heights -- just over 35 thousand feet -- a world record.

"It's for a piston-powered airplane that has maximum take-off weight of 1102 pounds."

Price's plane had some upgrades, including a bigger engine and these tiny tabs on the wing called vortex generators.

"They reduce stall speed of the airplane and make the airfoil more efficient."

It gave him an extra 2500 feet in altitude. And every ounce of unnecessary weight was trimmed .. even Price lost 43 pounds.

The record attempt took him to airliner territory where the temperature was 62 below, the canopy froze over, and he had to rely on a unique forced oxygen system to survive.

"If you lose oxygen at that altitude you're only god for about 30 seconds of consciousness," says Price

Another real threat is the bends, which seems to have led to an unusual rule.

"In order to get a world record," says Price, "you have to live for 24 hours after you've done it."

Test pilots call flying to a plane's limit riding on the bubble because the plane becomes extremely unstable and can slide off to either side.  Fortunately, a Long EZ has its tail in the front-- called a canard -- which makes it stall proof. Price is done now with records, but he wants someone to take his place.

"I'd actually like it to happen.  It was set in 96 and no one has broken it and I've offered to help others to do it," he said. 

But there have been no takers. So for now, Price will have to live with his spot on top of the pyramid. 
Price says he went through similar training as pilots of the U-2 and the SR-71 spy planes to prepare for his record flight.