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Helicopter sent to rescue Project Loon Google balloon in New Zealand

An emergency helicopter was mistaken dispatched to rescue a Google Wi-Fi balloon after locals mistook it for a sinking light aircraft.

The balloon, measuring 12m in height, was spotted in the sea near Christchurch, New Zealand by a pedestrian, who then contacted the emergency services.

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Google launched 30 of the balloons back in June 2013 in New Zealand to provide Wi-Fi to remote areas, as part of the company's "Project Loon," which will eventually utilise up to 400 balloons across the globe.

The balloons float at an altitude of over 10km in the stratosphere at around the Earth's 40th parallel and provide Wi-Fi to buildings equipped with a special antenna.

Initial attempts were made to rescue the balloon by boat, but rescuers called in the helicopter due to rough conditions. Google have already stated that they will repay the cost of despatching the helicopter.

Google spokesman Johnny Luu told news website Stuff New Zealand, "We will get in touch with the Westpac rescue helicopter crew to reimburse them for the mistaken rescue flight."

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Most of the balloons, which are designed to stay airborne for roughly 100 days before being guided to land, were recovered successfully. The project is part of a wider trend by Google and other web-based corporations to develop Internet communications in more remote areas. Recently Facebook revealed plans for their own drone-based system that they hope will improve communications across the globe.