Global Eagle Tests Connectivity in Lake Mead Flight


The Albatross One was a WW2 sea plane before Golden Eagle made it a Wifi test aircraft.

Outside of Las the greater Las Vegas area, there is a whole hell of a lot of nothing. Desert, rocks, canyons and cactus. That's about it. And, in many spots, the cactus is rare.

So, to test their onboard airline connectivity systems, Global Eagle Entertainment decided that barren landscape could serve as an ultimate challenge. They stocked their in-flight entertainment and connectivity hardware onto the Albatross One – an amphibious sea plane from WW2 – and invited journalist to come along for a flight from a small airfield outside Vegas, over the mountains, over Hoover Dam, down onto Lake Mead and back again.


The Albatross One Connectivity Server.

Global Eagle is a Los Angeles firm providing in-flight video content, e-commerce and information services to more than 130 airlines around the world.

Of course, while checking email and surfing the web seemed like sci-fi 10 years ago, it's commonplace for all major airlines to offer in-flight wifi for domestic North American flights. And, some carriers are beginning to offer oceanic wifi. In fact, American Airlines allows its LA to London passengers to stay online throughout the 11 hour flight.

Global Eagle wants to keep that service going along more routes around the world, especially between exotic locales.

While the pilot of the Albatross One fired up the prop engines, I made sure my online devices were ready. I considered buckling my seatbelt, but what was the point? This wasn't an airbus carrying me from LAX to ORD. This was a refurbished 60+ year old sea plane. If it went down, a seatbelt would only hold my corpse in place.

Embracing that sense of adventure, I took plenty of photos (below) of the trip to and from Lake Mead. But, would I be able to Tweet them or get on Instagram miles from any cell tower. I can report that the onboard wifi worked well enough that I used my iPhone FaceTime to send live images from the trip to friends and family.

Mission accomplished, Global Eagle.