The Tehachapi Society of Pilots, a local organization dedicated to promoting interest in general aviation and supporting the Tehachapi airport, held its annual dinner banquet and installation of new officers Jan. 25 at Triassic Vineyards in Cummings Valley.

Moessner’s Farm Café and Store of Tehachapi catered a delicious dinner for 64 members at the banquet. Outgoing TSP President Bob Meyer presided over the installation of new officers for 2020. The incoming officers are President Michael Kopriva, Vice President Dustin Mosher, Treasurer Mike Jaster, and Co-Secretaries Brian Eney and Jake Varhus.

The main event at the banquet was an interesting and informative presentation on the Perlan Project, a scientific program to study the upper atmosphere in a high-performance, unpowered, pressurized sail plane (glider). Jim Payne, the Perlan Project chief pilot, and Jackie Payne, the Project chief logistician, made the presentation.

On Sept. 7, 2018, the Perlan Project set an altitude record for unpowered aircraft at 76,100 feet while soaring over the Southernmost Andes Mountains in South America, a feat that has been recognized in the Guinness Book of World Records. The ultimate objective is to achieve altitudes in excess of 90,000 feet.

The meeting also included special recognition for a member of the TSP Build-A-Plane Project, a program that is teaching teens practical vocational skills by helping them construct a kit airplane. Maghen Saltzman of Tehachapi was presented a trophy as the “Most Valuable Builder” for her outstanding contributions to the project in 2019.

W.W. "Buzz" Wells is a member of the Tehachapi Society of Pilots.