Why Larry and Sergey bought a fighter jet
Larry, Sergey, and Eric have a fighter jet, and you don't. They also have a sweet place to park it: Moffett Field, the airstrip closest to the heart of Silicon Valley. Even Oracle CEO Larry Ellison has to get chauffeured down to San Jose to board his private plane. Remind us, how did the Googlers get such a sweet deal?Last year, Google struck a $144 million deal to lease land from Nasa's Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, for future office space. Separately, but not coincidentally, Larry Page, Sergey Brin, and Eric Schmidt, through a company called H211 LLC, struck a deal with Nasa to lease a hangar at Moffett Field for their growing fleet of private jets. Why on earth, or in space, did the Googlers get parking privileges at Moffett? Nasa and Google came up with a great spin: The jets would be available to fly scientific missions. Larry and Sergey got to geek out, thinking their party plans served a higher purpose — while saving hours commuting to and from SJC or SFO. One small hitch, Miguel Helft reports in Bits: Using the party planes for scientific missions required tinkering with their electronics. And changing anything about the planes required new FAA certifications. This may explain why Larry and Sergey pulled their party plane from a recent Nasa mission. We know it wasn't out for repairs — around the same time, they used it to ferry guests to and from Gavin Newsom's wedding. Hence the Dornier fighter jet, which is deemed an "experimental" plane, and which will now satisfy H211's space-mission duties. But that leaves the Googlers and Nasa in a rather unsatisfying position. When the Googlejets were flying for Nasa, they had a reasonable excuse for parking them at Moffett Field. But the purchase of a special plane to run space missions leaves Larry and Sergey's party-plane fleet used solely for civilian purposes. What are they doing at the field? Why, satisfying a quid pro quo, like they always were. This latest twist on Larry and Sergey's lease just makes it more obvious.