"Scientists" are working to confirm the location of dozens of uncontrolled vehicles that fell from more than 122,000 feet Jan. 17 following one of the more aggressive attempts at littering in modern times.
As part of an advertising campaign designed to demonstrate the reliability of their SD memory cards, Samsung attached cards to 100 specially designed planes that it launched into thin air using a giant helium balloon.
The planes were designed by Andy Chipling, founder of the Paper Aircraft Association and author of Flying Paper Airplanes, named by London's The Guardian newspaper as "the U.K.'s leading paper plane professional," with assistance from The Icarus Project, which lifts cameras to altitudes around 35,000 meters to take pictures of weather patterns and, presumably, paper airplanes stacked up over Chicago waiting for their turn to land.
Samsung never explained why it believed it could prove the reliability of its products by scattering them and random bits of paper across the globe to ignoble landings in places so remote the natives don't expect the sky to open up and rain paper planes and digital storage media.
The helium balloon took two-and-a-half hours to rise to 122,503 feet, where it burst; it took 40 minutes to fall all the way back down to the ground. Almost all the way. After falling from three times the altitude of the average jetliner, it got stuck in a tree and needed help from the ground crew to make it the last 15 or 20 feet.
So far confirmed plane recoveries have been made in Sydney Australia, Khabarovsk, Russia and Bangalore, India. A few of the less ambitious ones landed in Zehlendorf and Berlin, Germany.
Unconfirmed landings have been reported in Northern Canada, the Northwestern United States, and southern Africa.
So far no word on whether anyone finding the planes enjoyed either the planes or the SD cards. Nor, suspiciously is there any word yet on the inevitable littering fines.