You better sit down, I have some sad news: Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin will no longer be allowed to buy “sharply” discounted fuel for their private jets from the U.S. government. It’s heartbreaking, I know.
This nightmare comes courtesy of the Wall Street Journal, which revealed that NASA, which brokered the deal with Google in 2007, has decided not to renew the contract. NASA’s flip-flop follows some strong-arm tactics by Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, a Republican, who got it in his crazy ol’ head that the U.S. government should not give Google some “special deal.”
As part of the contract, NASA allowed Google to store some 20 private jets and a helicopter at Moffett Federal Airfield, where NASA’s Ames Research Center is based. Moffett is also just three miles away from Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, California, making it “the most convenient airport” for Page and Brin, according to WSJ. NASA also let Google fill up its fleet of aircraft at an average cost of $3.19 per gallon – an average discount of $1.16 per gallon, compared to the $4.35-per-gallon average most private jet owners had to pay.
The contract between NASA and Google (actually, Google made a separate company to handle the deal, with the snappy name H211) also required Google to use some of its planes to help NASA with important science stuff – which totally justifies the deal, don’t you think? I mean, they did it for science after all, just like you took that girl out to dinner for science. Bad analogy – anyway, records show that Google flew 155 missions for NASA, all but 11 of which used one of Google’s least fuel-hungry planes.
Most of the flights were for other, more serious trips. From WSJ: “The main jets in the fleet – a Boeing 767, Boeing 757, and four Gulfstream V’s – have departed from Moffett a total of 710 times since 2007, FAA records show. The most frequent destinations were Los Angeles and New York, but the planes also flew 20 times to the Caribbean island of Tortola; 17 to Hawaii; 16 to Nantucket, Mass.; and 15 to Tahiti.” Because all those Google users in Tahiti need love too, of course. Nothing weird about Tahiti …
Also, three of the company’s jets reportedly flew from Moffett to Croatia, “just before the wedding of Page’s brother-in-law,” which was in … Croatia. Now, before you go and judge Page, I’m going to have to call out some shady reporting here. WSJ says the wedding was for Page’s “brother-in-law” – you probably caught that in the last sentence – but wouldn’t his brother-in-law be marrying Page’s sister? So why not call it his sister’s wedding, huh? Or is this “brother-in-law” – if he even exists – some sex-crazed, polygamous maniac? THINK ABOUT IT. Truth.
So there you have it folks, Google won’t be getting discounted fuel. And the WSJ is apparently spreading lies about Larry Page’s sister. Which is the real conspiracy here? Discuss.
Ed. note: Larry Page does not have a sister.
Important update!: As a reader points out, Page’s brother-in-law in question is actually his wife’s brother. Sure, that makes perfect sense. Or it could be a loophole to throw us off the scent! You decide.