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Google is taking over the lease at the airfield that houses Hangar One — the giant eight-acre aircraft hangar that was built in 1933 to house massive dirigibles and now is one of the most recognizable landmarks in Silicon Valley.
On Monday, NASA said that Google subsidiary Planetary Ventures LLC had been selected to take over the blimp hangar — a highly visible icon on Silicon Valley’s Highway 101 — and operate the Moffett Federal Airfield that is already home to the fleet of private jets owns by Google’s executives.
The audit found out that seven jets and two helicopters owned by Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin and Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt had received improper discounts on fuel that saved the three billionaires up to $5.3 million on flights dating back to 2009. The Google executives own the aircraft through a company called H211, which has been paying $1.4 million annually since 2007 to lease hangar space at Moffett.
Although H211 and Planetary Ventures are separate entities, a frequent Google critic said the U.S. government is rewarding "unethical and wrongful behavior" by awarding the Moffett management contract to the company. "This is like giving the keys to your car to the guy who has been siphoning gas from your tank," said John Simpson, privacy project director for Consumer Watchdog.
Google beat out one other competitor for the Moffett contract, which went up for bidding last May. Ames Research Center spokeswoman Jessica Culler declined to identify the other bidder.