A surprising piece of news was buried in an article this week. Friday, The Mercury News reported the three top executives at Google, Larry Page,Sergey Brin and Eric Schmidt, are offering to pay $33 million to finish the restoration of the historic airship hangar at Moffett Field. The giant structure, built in the 1930s and called Hangar One, sits a few miles from the Googleplex and it’s well known the Google executives have special permission from NASA to park their jets at Moffett.
The jets are not owned or operated by Google. Instead, the 3 Google leaders operate the fleet through an LLC called H211. Google has no official relation with H211. Ken Ambrose, the Director of Operations for H211, announced the funding offer at a public meeting this week. He also complained that NASA, which owns Hangar One, has taken too long to respond to the offer.
On first glance, it sounds like a purely noble gesture by the Google trio. The building is in the middle of a project to strip toxic materials in its siding. Lack of taxpayer funding to complete the project has raised fears that could lead to the demolition of one of the world’s largest freestanding structures.
But, as the Mercury News reported, “There’s a catch: They want to use up to two-thirds of the floor space of the hangar to house their fleet of eight private jets.” Most of the members on the Hangar One committee, along with the local congresswoman, support the idea, although there is some concern about the public-private partnership.
But whoa. Wait a minute. The Google execs own eight jets? 2.6 jets per person, for the 2 co-founders and the executive chairman?