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Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

June 3, 2014 at 2:04 PM

Google confirms Yakima Loon balloon crash

Nearly a week after one of its Loon balloons crashed into a power pole near Yakima, Google acknowledged the incident.

It really was a trial balloon, launched from Nevada, where the company conducts tests to improve the technology. The balloon went down Wednesday, damaging a pole and cutting power to nearby homes.

Google is experimenting with its “Project Loon” balloons as a way to deliver wireless Internet access to underserved areas.

Hopefully, the balloons will deliver information faster than Google’s public-relations department.

The company refused to discuss the crash last week with the Yakima Herald-Republic, which broke the story by obtaining confirmation from the FAA and an aviation enthusiast who saw radar tracking of the incident.

Google finally acknowledged its involvement today and for attribution issued an opaque, on-the-record statement:

“Since launching Project Loon in New Zealand last year, we’ve continued to do research flights to improve the technology. We coordinate with local air traffic control authorities and have a team dedicated to recovering the balloons when they land.”

Google simultaneously is experimenting with satellites to extend the reach of the Internet and its online services and advertising delivery system. Citing anonymous sources, the Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday that Google’s spending more than $1 billion on the satellite program.

Let’s hope the company’s more forthcoming if one of its satellites crashes in a populated area.

Comments | Topics: broadband, Google, loon balloon

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