News

Google founders can fly jet out of Moffett

Boeing 767 helps with NASA research -- execs can 'come and go as they please'

NASA Ames released a statement Monday explaining why a Boeing 767, owned by Google founders Larry Page and Sergei Brin, was seen on Moffett Field's runway last week.

Public affairs director Delores Beasley explained that under an agreement with the executives, the plane has been fitted with scientific equipment that allows NASA Ames to "regularly collect earth atmospheric and terrestrial observations" -- thereby allowing the plane to land at Moffett Field under provisions of a two-year lease.

NASA spokesperson Michael Mewhinney confirmed that the agreement allows the Google execs to "come and go as they please," and NASA researchers do not have to be on board. The plane will "operate out of" Moffett, Mewhinney wrote. According to some reports, the agreement also covers other planes owned by Page and Brin, including one or more Gulfstreams.

Mayor Laura Macias said Tuesday she didn't think it was a good idea for NASA to open the door to this type of agreement, and questioned how fair it was to others.

"There's so many people chomping at the bit to land at NASA," Macias said. "I think it's good when we all play by the same rules."

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The airfield is restricted under NASA's Space Act, allowing only government planes and those helping NASA Ames with research or education.

Though Google now has an agreement to organize NASA's data, the 767 is not owned by Google, but by a separate company owned by Page and Brin called H211 LLC.

Steve Williams, an aviator who writes a blog about Moffett Field, wasn't as concerned as Macias.

"It's good to know there is some connection," he said. "It does not look so much like favoritism."

On Aug. 31, researchers from NASA and SETI -- Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, a group of scientists based in Mountain View -- used one of Page and Brin's planes to study a meteor shower. From a high altitude, Beasley said, "Scientists on board recorded observation times, brightness distribution, elemental composition and penetration depth into the Earth's atmosphere."

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Five days later, on Sept. 5, the Google founders' unmarked red, white and blue jumbo jet left Moffett for Sevilla, Spain, where Google was having a sales conference the next day, according to Europa Press.

Macias said NASA was sailing in "murky waters" because it was unclear how much the plane was being used for research versus business and personal use.

There was speculation in February that Page and Brin would help save Moffett Field's historic Hangar One if they were able to park their plane inside. At last weekend's Art & Wine festival, Hangar One advocates gossiped about how Page and Brin were able to land the plane at Moffett.

"Don't get me wrong, I think it's a good thing," Williams said before he'd heard the explanation from NASA. "I just want to know how they did it, so that frankly I can apply for my own authorization. My aircraft makes a lot less noise."

The Boeing 767 is the only jumbo jet at Moffett Field. The 34-year old executives bought it from Quantas Airlines in 2005 for less than $15 million, which is arguably a better value than a traditional private jet.

It was then revamped into a 50-passenger "party plane," as Google CEO Eric Schmidt reportedly put it. After a lawsuit over payment for that work, VIP interior designer Leslie Griffin revealed some of the odd requests for the plane reportedly made by Page and Brin, including hammocks hanging from the ceiling.

After the Navy left Moffett Field in the 1990s, disagreement over how the airstrip would be used has continued to this day, even among those who are trying to save Hangar One. Williams contends that commercial and personal planes flying in from the Bay will have little noise impacts, while fellow Hangar One advocate Lenny Siegel has called for housing to replace the airstrip. Macias believes Moffett would be a bad location for a public airfield.

The airfield is currently used regularly by Air National Guard helicopters for training and operations, Lockheed, NASA Ames, military shipments, and occasionally President Bush's Air Force One. Beasley said the Google execs' jet would not tip the airfield over its limit of 25,000 flights a year.

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Google founders can fly jet out of Moffett

Boeing 767 helps with NASA research -- execs can 'come and go as they please'

by / Mountain View Voice

Uploaded: Wed, Sep 12, 2007, 9:43 am

NASA Ames released a statement Monday explaining why a Boeing 767, owned by Google founders Larry Page and Sergei Brin, was seen on Moffett Field's runway last week.

Public affairs director Delores Beasley explained that under an agreement with the executives, the plane has been fitted with scientific equipment that allows NASA Ames to "regularly collect earth atmospheric and terrestrial observations" -- thereby allowing the plane to land at Moffett Field under provisions of a two-year lease.

NASA spokesperson Michael Mewhinney confirmed that the agreement allows the Google execs to "come and go as they please," and NASA researchers do not have to be on board. The plane will "operate out of" Moffett, Mewhinney wrote. According to some reports, the agreement also covers other planes owned by Page and Brin, including one or more Gulfstreams.

Mayor Laura Macias said Tuesday she didn't think it was a good idea for NASA to open the door to this type of agreement, and questioned how fair it was to others.

"There's so many people chomping at the bit to land at NASA," Macias said. "I think it's good when we all play by the same rules."

The airfield is restricted under NASA's Space Act, allowing only government planes and those helping NASA Ames with research or education.

Though Google now has an agreement to organize NASA's data, the 767 is not owned by Google, but by a separate company owned by Page and Brin called H211 LLC.

Steve Williams, an aviator who writes a blog about Moffett Field, wasn't as concerned as Macias.

"It's good to know there is some connection," he said. "It does not look so much like favoritism."

On Aug. 31, researchers from NASA and SETI -- Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, a group of scientists based in Mountain View -- used one of Page and Brin's planes to study a meteor shower. From a high altitude, Beasley said, "Scientists on board recorded observation times, brightness distribution, elemental composition and penetration depth into the Earth's atmosphere."

Five days later, on Sept. 5, the Google founders' unmarked red, white and blue jumbo jet left Moffett for Sevilla, Spain, where Google was having a sales conference the next day, according to Europa Press.

Macias said NASA was sailing in "murky waters" because it was unclear how much the plane was being used for research versus business and personal use.

There was speculation in February that Page and Brin would help save Moffett Field's historic Hangar One if they were able to park their plane inside. At last weekend's Art & Wine festival, Hangar One advocates gossiped about how Page and Brin were able to land the plane at Moffett.

"Don't get me wrong, I think it's a good thing," Williams said before he'd heard the explanation from NASA. "I just want to know how they did it, so that frankly I can apply for my own authorization. My aircraft makes a lot less noise."

The Boeing 767 is the only jumbo jet at Moffett Field. The 34-year old executives bought it from Quantas Airlines in 2005 for less than $15 million, which is arguably a better value than a traditional private jet.

It was then revamped into a 50-passenger "party plane," as Google CEO Eric Schmidt reportedly put it. After a lawsuit over payment for that work, VIP interior designer Leslie Griffin revealed some of the odd requests for the plane reportedly made by Page and Brin, including hammocks hanging from the ceiling.

After the Navy left Moffett Field in the 1990s, disagreement over how the airstrip would be used has continued to this day, even among those who are trying to save Hangar One. Williams contends that commercial and personal planes flying in from the Bay will have little noise impacts, while fellow Hangar One advocate Lenny Siegel has called for housing to replace the airstrip. Macias believes Moffett would be a bad location for a public airfield.

The airfield is currently used regularly by Air National Guard helicopters for training and operations, Lockheed, NASA Ames, military shipments, and occasionally President Bush's Air Force One. Beasley said the Google execs' jet would not tip the airfield over its limit of 25,000 flights a year.

Comments

Concerned citizen
Blossom Valley
on Sep 13, 2007 at 8:43 pm
Concerned citizen, Blossom Valley
on Sep 13, 2007 at 8:43 pm
3 people like this

It's amazing what money and power can do.


MVREsidentX
Old Mountain View
on Sep 13, 2007 at 10:33 pm
MVREsidentX, Old Mountain View
on Sep 13, 2007 at 10:33 pm
3 people like this

There goes the end to peaceful sleep in Mountain View. Get ready to hear the giant roar of a 767 at 3am. This sounds like Larry Ellison and his Gulf Stream jet at San Jose all over again. Anyone else tired of all this rule bending for billionaires? Why weren't us lowly little residents consulted about this? Seems money and money alone is what talks in this town.


Bernie Brightman
North Whisman
on Sep 14, 2007 at 2:25 pm
Bernie Brightman, North Whisman
on Sep 14, 2007 at 2:25 pm
3 people like this

I live on Easy Street within close walking distance to Moffett Field and I would like to know whether we live in a republic or in a dictatorship where the rich can do whatever they like?

P.S. Hey MV Voice, according to your map I don't live in any neighborhood at all. Please fix your map!


Curious Observer
Registered user
Jackson Park
on Sep 16, 2007 at 8:49 pm
Curious Observer, Jackson Park
Registered user
on Sep 16, 2007 at 8:49 pm
3 people like this

What's next, escorted motorcades through the city because they don't want to be bothered stopping at red lights? More and more Google is beginning to fall out of favor with me.


John
The Crossings
on Sep 17, 2007 at 6:57 pm
John, The Crossings
on Sep 17, 2007 at 6:57 pm
3 people like this

Exactly - next thing we know, Larry Ellison will be making a "donation" (bribe) to NASA/Moffett and landing his jet(s). Do we still live in a democracy?


Frances
Old Mountain View
on Sep 17, 2007 at 11:39 pm
Frances, Old Mountain View
on Sep 17, 2007 at 11:39 pm
3 people like this

Ugh. Not cool Google.


Rita Rosberg
another community
on Sep 18, 2007 at 3:39 pm
Rita Rosberg, another community
on Sep 18, 2007 at 3:39 pm
3 people like this

How quickly we all forget what life was like, and how time consuming it was to gather information in the not-too-distant past. I think that the least we can do in appreciation for the great gift that they've given us (namely time . . . the stuff that life is made of) is to graciously allow them a few perks. With the time that they save by using Moffett, who knows what wonders may be in store for us in the future?


Curious Observer
Registered user
Jackson Park
on Sep 18, 2007 at 11:38 pm
Curious Observer, Jackson Park
Registered user
on Sep 18, 2007 at 11:38 pm
3 people like this

Great gift? Google archives every single search that you've done using their site. At any point in time, they can produce a record of all your searches. Who knows what they'll do with this information. The possibilities are frightening. Their "gift" comes with a price and it's a price I suggest we use with caution.


stop crying
Old Mountain View
on Sep 20, 2007 at 8:52 pm
stop crying, Old Mountain View
on Sep 20, 2007 at 8:52 pm
3 people like this

stop your crying. You live in silicon valley! Technology Capitol of the United States if not the world. I wonder how many of you use the free wifi provided by google. Or walk through some of the public parks sponsered by google. Some of you probably own stock and are receiving a nice return on your investment, thanks to google. Stop crying, suck it up, or move to the suburbs where technology isn't so rampid.


Bernie Brightman
North Whisman
on Sep 22, 2007 at 11:17 am
Bernie Brightman, North Whisman
on Sep 22, 2007 at 11:17 am
3 people like this

If you think google provided free WiFi for you, you're suffering from solipsism. Nice spelling on "rampant" by the way.


Curious Observer
Registered user
Jackson Park
on Sep 22, 2007 at 7:29 pm
Curious Observer, Jackson Park
Registered user
on Sep 22, 2007 at 7:29 pm
3 people like this

My last say on the matter: Beware of Geeks bearing gifts.


Carl Orta
another community
on Oct 19, 2007 at 12:23 am
Carl Orta, another community
on Oct 19, 2007 at 12:23 am
3 people like this

NASA Space act did not envision private business/party airplanes adding to our crowded air space over Santa Clara county. Traffic from San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose is already quite congested according to airline pilots polled privately. Allowing Moffett traffic to be inserted is looking for trouble. Also, the use by Google to do "pretend" science is a joke, and will only lead to more flounting of the law.

Huge joint study in the mid-90's by the neighboring cities and NASA concluded that use of Moffett for civilian traffic was not a good use and was strongly opposed by the neighbor cities. At that time NASA declared it's self to be a good neighbor and never do anything opposed by the cities. We should not embark on this path of darkening our skies - beginning with Google.


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