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A Google Australia Day publicity wheeze came down with a bump on Friday when aviation authorities said the firm could not fly a specially chartered plane over Sydney.

The firm had invited people to get themselves noticed as a twin-engined Aero Commander passed over parks and beaches taking high-resolution photographs for Google Maps. One software firm spent over AUS$10,000 on a promotional it hoped would display its web address, reports The Sydney Morning Herald.

Air Services Australia spokesman Terry O'Connor said that the pilot was warned last week the flight plans would be "very difficult or impossible". He continued: "To allow them to do what they wanted, we would have had to close the runway [at Sydney Airport]."

Lars Rasmussen, the head of engineering at Google Australia said: "The positive public response to this initiative has been overwhelming and we are very grateful to everyone who took part. While we made every effort to capture as much as we could on the day, unfortunately some people may be disappointed."

Those disappointed will include a 200-strong environmental group which had formed a human banner on one of the city's beaches and a heartbroken IT worker whose wife moved away to Melbourne four weeks ago. More here.

The Morning Herald notes that similar - albeit higher flying - photography plane sponsored by Microsoft was able to complete its mission over Sydney's Centennial Park (which had been one of the locations Google was banned from) unhindered later in the day. ®

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