How could we increase population, without increasing problems on the road and at the gate?

In the eyes of Burners.Me, we prefer getting more tickets to Burners over “slow growth” if there’s any possible way.

It seems like most of the concerns about growing this year’s population cap closer to the newly permitted 70,000 , have to do with the amount of traffic on the road, at the gate and increased times on the way in and the Exodus out.

So here’s an idea to allow thousands more Burners on the Playa this year:


Every year, thousands of Burners arrive and leave by aircraft – either landing in them, or jumping out of them.

The Black Rock Desert has a long and rich history of aviation and rocketry.

There are some flying condition challenges that suggest this is maybe not suitable for new pilots, but aviator-Burner-Virgins are welcome.

There is a $20 handling fee for each aviation passenger. And they need to have tickets.

image by Hawk

From Flying magazine:

The airport at Black Rock City is an unusual destination, because it exists only during the weeklong event, during which it replaces an “airport” hundreds of square miles in size–the dry lake bed–which is off limits in an approximate 5-mile ring around the temporary airport during Burning Man. The festival, which celebrates what it calls “radical self expression,” seems an odd match for aviation. Not only are the festival grounds filled with extremely alternative forms of art and other more difficult to categorize forms, but the dusty playa can be downright inhospitable to airplanes. Dust storms that can cut visibility to mere feet are all too common, and the surface, depending on how much rain it’s gotten over the past few weeks, can range from spongy and billowing with dust to hard as a rock. That said, the event every year attracts a lot of airplanes. The next closest airport, Winnemucca, is 60 miles away. It is surely because Black Rock City is so far from civilization and so isolated that small airplanes make so much sense for getting to the event.

image by Hawk

So, why not create a special class of Air Burner tickets, for those who are able to bypass the hassles of the gate? Perhaps a $1000 ticket, that would entail a large donation to the Black Rock Arts Foundation, so that concerns of “Plug-n-Play non-contribution” to the party can be alleviated.

In recent years, the airport has been quite busy, with hundreds of takeoffs and landings every day. Landings are clothing optional. Many people fly in, leave the plane alone while they go mad for week, then fly out at the
end; there are only a few charter services. Flights to and from the nearby hot springs are popular. In a small plane, you can land almost anywhere on the Playa, it is the second flattest surface on the planet.

If a special Air Burner tickets were available for aviators, the demand might be surprisingly high – maybe another thousand Burners could be accomodated on the Playa, without any change to wait times at the gate or Exodus, and without any more traffic on the Nevada roads.

Skydiving is also becoming popular at Burning Man, with more than 100 in 2011. Open these Air Burner tickets to skydivers also, and you could get another thousand in via the airport, with their existing tickets also freed up to go to STEP.

[UPDATE 4/20: Burner Hawk, who runs the airport and took these photos, contacted us, and gave us a quick update on its growth:

You definitely make a good point in your blog post. And, we’ve actually had a big increase over the past few years of charter flights. When we started the airport back in 2000 it was basically just pilots and their planes and just a dozen planes at that. Now we’re averaging around 150 private aircraft each year and at least six different charter operators flying passengers in and out. ]

What do you think, Burners?

The Airport Volunteer team. Image by Hawk

4 comments on “How could we increase population, without increasing problems on the road and at the gate?

  1. Pingback: BREAKING: More tickets! BLM issues special permit for 60,900 | Burners.Me Burning Man commentary blog

  2. Pingback: “Not just a party in the desert”: Burning Man makes its case on Capitol Hill | Burners.Me Burning Man commentary blog

  3. Pingback: Uh-oh! Burning Man placed on probation by the Feds for exceeding population cap | Burners.Me Burning Man commentary blog

  4. Tickets have always been available at the airport with the exception of last year and this year as the event has sold out.

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