Internet and technology giant Google has made headlines in the past with its balloons that provide internet access to remote regions of the world. And it seems like a farmer in South Africa’s arid Karoo region has had a close encounter with one of Project Loon’s secret floating tech hubs.

According to Afrikaans newspaper Beeld, farmer Urbanus Botha came upon bits and pieces of what looked like a crashed weather balloon, and told the paper that at first he saw a giant plastic sail and electrical components lying in a vast field.

Not entirely sure what it was, he contacted the weather station at the small town of De Aar to get confirmation of the crash, but Botha stated that nobody was available to take his call.

“The huge piece of plastic filled my whole sheep trailer. I might be able to put it to good use when I repaint the shed. The smaller pieces of plastic I discarded,” he told Beeld.

Google Loon
The solar panels from the balloon. Image – Sarita Visagie.

Still perplexed as to what the strange object might be, Botha called his neighbour Stoffel Visagie for advice. It was upon further investigation of the electrical components that Botha noticed the inscription “Google [X]” on many of them.

Googling the phrase, Botha soon realised what they were staring at. “We realized the balloon and parts were of Google’s Loon Project. It is a technology system where balloons hangs above the earth and provide internet access to everyone.”

According to Wikipedia, Google [X] “is a semi-secret facility run by Google dedicated to making major technological advancements. It is located about a half mile from Google’s corporate headquarters, the Googleplex, in Mountain View, California.”

Visagie’s daughter Sarita took a number of pictures and sent them to Google for verification and identification.

She told Beeld “An engineer in California said by email that the components in my pictures look like they are from [Google’s] systems. He said that he will send a local team to collect the parts from us.”

[Source – Beeld, Image – Google]
Charlie started his professional life as a motoring journalist for a community newspaper in Mpumalanga, Charlie explored different journalistic angles since his entry into the fast-paced world of publishing in 2006. While fostering a passion for the arts, Charlie developed a love for technology – both which allowed him to serve as Entertainment and Technology Editor for an online publication. Charlie has since been heavily involved in consumer technology for various websites and publications. He thoroughly enjoys World War II films and cerebral documentaries; aviation; photography and indie music. Oh yes, and he also has a rather strange obsession with collecting coffee mugs from his travels.