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Google Balloons

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In today's news, Google aims to have 400 balloons up there, constantly circling the earth. They have a life of 100 days and then drift down, with luck to be recovered and recycled. That means four will drift down into civilian airspace each day. The balloons are big and strong. They would probably not bring down a commercial jet but would certainly bring down a light aircraft if you hit one. The balloons carry transponders so ATC will know where they are. That will not help most of us, who will have to rely on our eyeballs for avoidance. See and avoid will be working only one way, with these things drifting in the breeze. We already have lots of weather balloons, but these are more formidable.



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One of these Google balloons landed in the sea just off the east coast of the South Island last Friday - sparking a full-scale search and rescue callout - a local apparently saw it going in and thought it was a local microlighter - back at Rangiora base we heard it on the news as "light plane goes into sea" and thought it was one of our people on a flight up north to Omaka. Mild panic ensued until the truth came out - apparently Google have offered to meet the costs of the rescue helicopter!



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