Epic Experimental at Burning Man. Image: Peter Ruprecht
Playa Air Express have been serving Burning Man for more than a decade. A couple of years ago they flew my sister in, we were very happy with the experience and value for money. Now they have expanded their fleet and their routes. They are open for reservations now, book early as things will get crazy closer to Aug 30. Flights start at $475.
PLAYA AIR EXPRESS 2015: Annual Burning Man Newsletter
Hello everyone and Happy 2015! We would like to take a special moment to thank all of our existing clients for flying with us after all these years to the annual homecoming on the Playa for Burning Man 2015, as well as welcome new clients who will fly with us.
During the past several months we have been developing more routes from desirable cities to fly directly into the Burning Man event, and we wanted to share the good news with you as you begin to make your travel plans. Along with the great news that JetBlue is expanding their services, and will now be offering daily, non-stop service from JFK to Reno, Playa Air Express has also expanded our services, aircraft fleet, and routes as well into Burning Man/Black Rock City (88NV).
Beechcraft King Air 200
We now offer a King Air 200 for non-stop service from the Los Angeles, Phoenix and Las Vegas areas!
Flights originating from the Los Angeles area direct to Burning Man, we will fly out of Hawthorne airport (Jack Northrop Field-KHHR) which is approximately 10 minutes from the LAX airport.
Flights originating from Las Vegas area direct to Burning Man we will fly out of the North Las Vegas airport (VGT) approximately 20 minutes from Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport.
Flights originating from the Phoenix area direct to Burning Man we will fly out of Chandler, AZ, (Chandler Municipal Airport-KCHD) approximately 25 minutes from Phoenix’s Sky Harbor International.
We will also have an additional aircraft positioned for our Bay Area routes direct to Burning Man which will be flying out of Hayward, CA. (Hayward Executive Airport-KHWD) approximately 30 minutes from the SFO and Oakland airports.
If you desire to travel to Burning Man originating from another regional city such as Seattle,Portland, Salt Lake City, San Jose, San Diego, or Denver please inquire with us when you submit your email to us. In addition, we can arrange jet charter services from many US locations and either connect you to a shuttle from Reno direct into Burning Man, or connect you to our other designated gateway cities to get you there as well. Helicopters are available as well.
We still offer our great air shuttle services from Reno direct to Burning Man with (2) five seat aircraft (depending on baggage) out of Atlantic Aviation which is a short 10 minutes from the Reno/Tahoe International airport.
We will begin taking reservations and answering questions for travel arrangements to the 2015 Burning Man event on Monday, April 13th, 2015. We look forward to continuing to serve all of your Burning Man flight needs, and we appreciate your business. Thank you.
Playa Air Express | Pacific Coast Flight Solutions LLC.
A couple of months ago, I was listening to the Joe Rogan podcast, and heard an amazing tale from Burning Man. Joe, who is a very public advocate for hallucinogenic drugs, was interviewing Dr Bruce Damer, a long time Burner (’99). He was recommended as a guest for Joe by Dennis McKenna, whose brother Terence was called the Patron of Psychedelic Drugs in his New York Times obituary – Timothy Leary called him “the Timothy Leary of the 90’s”.
Dr Damer, a technologist and virtual world pioneer, gives seminars at the Pentagon, as well as lecturing Burners on psychedelic drugs.
They kick the podcast off with the “craziest story of all time”, which Bruce Damer originally told to Boing Boing, about being at Burning Man during Hurricane Katrina and hacking into military/intelligence satellites to watch the action:
JR: “You were partying at Burning Man with people who work at the Pentagon”
JR: “That gives me great discomfort, to know that people who work in the Pentagon are partying at Burning Man”
BD: “Rocking! We called for Blackhawks…
Our camp was doing the Wi-Fi for the public and emergency networks, the private network…we had a dish, so we could take over satellites. One of our guys took over a recon satellite from the National Reconnaissance Office. He took this thing offline – this was a Pentagon move…Our Pentagon satellite phone rang, the general on the other side was saying “what’s going on” and then instructed the guy not to answer. We then had control of this satellite and could watch Katrina come in. The government wasn’t doing anything to help people, with all this equipment.
He worked on the Asian tsunami relief efforts, then he went straight to Afghanistan, then he went to Baghdad, then he came to Burning Man.
He works under Title 10 money doing extreme comms, extreme emergency relief efforts. This guy’s invented all this technology, cellphones in rubberized cases that come down on parachutes and run for a month… Here we have a natural disaster happening in our own country, barreling in. Nobody at Burning Man knows it’s happening, but we watched it come in.
You could watch video from orbit on this guy’s screen. You could watch people walking…we saw the first levee breach on this guy’s screen at Burning Man…hi-res reconnaissance imagery…the Iridium phone kept ringing. This is an innovative genius type guy that is totally respected in that organization. The general that initiated the enquiry was covering him, so that the general could then contact Space Command and say “I can’t get any information”. He had put the satellite in some kind of failsafe fall-back mode, so they would spend the next several days trying to get back into it…we could burn hydrazine and locate stuff on the Playa.”
The whole podcast is worth listening to. Dr Damer gave a lecture at Burning Man in 2012 about shamans, the Pentagon and NASA at the Palenque Norte Psychedelic Salon.
The Palenque Norte journey began with the legendary Entheobotany Conferences held at the Chan Kah hotel near the ancient Mayan ruins just outside of Palenque, Mexico. There, Terence McKenna, Jonathan Ott, Ann & Sasha Shulgin, and a host of other psychedelic luminaries passed along many insights, discoveries, and wild tales to the fortunate Tribe members who were there. And it was at the end of the pool where Terence McKenna gave some of his last talks at the Chan Kah. Years later, then in 2003, a few alumni from those conferences decided to have a “Palenque reunion” at the Burning Man Festival, and so they organized a lecture series to continue the Palenque tradition.
Bruce Damer takes the 2012 Palenque Norte audience at the Burning Man Festival on a far flung journey into what he calls his practice of “global multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-technic shamanism” where you “put yourself on the shelf” and dive deeply into the worlds of Pentagon think tanks, NASA mission designers, the tribal cultures of Pakistan, the Swiss [bankers], Egyptologists, IT professionals, and Christian Evangelicals, to come back with the true alchemical gold. With apologies to Terence McKenna, he says “there is no dominator culture” and that if we aren’t careful we can collectively fall for cartoon epistemologies, chase chains of weaker and weaker claims, and become a victims of our own delusions, and fall prey to others’ unsubstantiated theories. Bruce advises everyone to become their own best skeptic and develop “critical intelligence”. If someone says something that strikes you as flaky or just doesn’t feel right, Bruce suggests that you think it through before you pass on their meme.
So this is the type of people at Burning Man. It’s not all drugged up hippies looking for an orgy. Some of them advise the Pentagon and NASA. Some of them can hack military/intelligence satellites, and get Generals to cover for them. Former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO, General Wesley Clark, is now a Burner. He ran for President, as did Denis Kucinich who attended for the first time this year.
Burning Man takes place on former military land. Many of the people who played key roles in its early years have a military/intelligence background.
Blackhawks on the Playa would not have been a big deal. Every year, military aircraft fly overhead. It is close to Naval Air Station Fallon.
Blackhawk military helicopter hovers low over Burning Man, 2013. Image: Patrick Roddie
image: Christopher Olewnik/Facebook
image: Christopher Olewnik/Facebook
Other aircraft spotted flying over Burning Man over the years include Chinooks, F-14’s, F-16’s, F-18’s, F-22’s, C-130’s, even a flight of V-22 Osprey tilt-rotors.
a former U.S. Army drill instructor, self-avowed “hippie doctor,” PhD neuroscientist, technotopian idealist, dedicated Burner, dabbler in psychedelics, insatiable meddler, and (weirdest of all) defense contractor.
For a long time, the Taj Guest House was about the only place you could get a beer in Jalalabad. The provincial capital, about 30 miles from the infamous mountains of Tora Bora, has been the main staging ground for U.S.-led forces in the eastern part of Afghanistan since the early days of the war. When I showed up in the city in November 2011 to report on the propaganda efforts of a franchising Taliban, I found myself at the Taj. There wasn’t much to the pub—just a bamboo-covered bar, a fireplace, a glass-fronted cooler with some Heineken stacked inside, and a few bottles of vodka and other spirits lined up under the red glow of a lamp.
Plus there was an odd little sign: “We share information, communication, (and beer).”
…Looking like a cross between a mountaineer and a mathematician, he had a salt-and-pepper beard and curly hair that hung down to his shoulders, and he favored a uniform of black polo shirts over tied-dyed tees. His name was Dr. Dave Warner.
War zones attract a lot of sketchy characters. In Afghanistan and Iraq, where defense contractors have generally outnumbered soldiers on the ground, the cast of extras has been especially sprawling and inscrutable—security experts, mercenaries, aid workers, engineers, intelligence types, and consultants of every kind. It was just a guess, but given the array on the roof, I took Warner and his team for spooks of some kind.
I was at best half right in my guess about Warner’s occupation. He did indeed work for U.S. intelligence sometimes, he explained, but he wasn’t a spy. On principle, he refused to get a security clearance, out of a belief in something he called “radical inclusion.” The most valuable information in a conflict or disaster zone, he said, was information that could be shared with everybody.
image: Graham Smith/PSMag
The term radical inclusion stopped me. I recognized it from the summer of 1998, when I had gone to Burning Man, the hedonistic-fire-worshipper-art-festival that occurs every summer in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert. Radical inclusion is one of the event’s “Ten Principles.” When I mentioned this, Warner’s eyes lit up. He dug into his T-shirt and pulled out a shining Burning Man medallion. “Dude,” he said, grinning in the firelight. “This is a Burner bar.”
Warner’s entire team – which he called, in all seriousness, the Synergy Strike Force—had just attended Burning Man that summer. He himself had been attending annually since 2002. And the bar, it turned out, was his bar…It was not only a place to drink and flop but also a kind of grand social experiment—an outpost of the Burning Man ethos in the Afghan desert…
The war effort, in short, was sophisticated when it came to deploying lethal hardware like drones, but clumsy in just about every other way. A few people in the upper echelons of the command structure were painfully aware of this. Warner knew because he had their ear. He had connections in the Defense Intelligence Agency, the CIA, the Army Special Forces, and the Office of the Secretary of Defense. He also knew what an unlikely figure he cut—a Burner among bureaucrats. When I asked him later why the Department of Defense had turned to him, he shook his head and laughed. “Oh,” he said, “they’re fucking desperate.”…
Eric Rasmussen, one of Warner’s early sponsors at DARPA, has come away similarly awed by the doctor’s capacities. “I was taught by multiple Nobel Prize winners, and Dave is the equal of any of them in intelligence,” Rasmussen told me. Warner has been “trendsetting for a number of very forward-thinking organizations, like the Strategic Studies Group for the Chief of Naval Operations, like DARPA, like the Office of Naval Research,” among others. “He has shaped curriculum for the Marine Corps. He has influenced curriculum for National Defense University. He is a remarkable intellectual force who has managed to hold on to his idealism through everything.” What’s more, he has done it all without a security clearance. “And that,” Rasmussen said, “if you remember the kind of work that he does—and for whom—is astonishing.”…
I was just beginning to get used to his way of talking, which alternated between turgid military jargon and gonzo flights of fancy. (“I’m dismantling the Death Star,” he told me later, “to build solar ovens for the Ewoks.”)…
The group was also engaged in various maker-ish side projects worthy of Burning Man. Gold was busy building a methane generator from PVC pipe and an old oil drum. The design, popular among self-sufficiency buffs on the Internet, allows you to filter the gasses that come off human waste into pure methane, which can be used as a fuel source…
Last summer at Burning Man, members of the team gathered once again, and Warner invited me to join them. So I headed out to the Black Rock Desert and pitched a small tent next to Warner’s giant RV. He came out of nowhere, from the dust and the wind, as I was struggling with some rigging for a tarp. He was drinking a beer, wearing a tied-dyed shirt and cutoff jean shorts, with a tie-dyed bandana on his head and another around his neck. “We’re going to the temple,” he said, “for a service.”…
Warner gathered with other members of the Synergy Strike Force. He nailed a pakul hat to the wall, hung an Afghan scarf around it, and added a Synergy Strike Force patch. Around us, Burners wept and prayed. And at the end of the festival, the temple was burned to the ground, with everything in it.
Read the full story here, it’s a great read. Dr Dave Warner sounds like a hero to me. Definitely in the running for the “best Burner” prize.
Here are some links to other stories about the Synergy Strike Force:
Their online hub, with links to many more photos, is at reachback.org
Image: Peretz Partensky/WIRED
Peace Intelligence. That seems like something that the world could use a lot more of. Sadly, the Synergy Strike Force’s Afghanistan operations have now stopped, due to lack of funding (they needed about $5,000 a month for their Internet connection). Now THAT would have been a good use of the non-profit Burning Man Project’s $30 million annual budget.
Earlier this year, the San Francisco Bay Guardian brought us a 5-page story about Burning Man, written by Burner Scribe. We covered the story in The Spark of Controversy . We also highlighted the apparent hypocrisy of the BMOrg profiting from a photo shoot featuring an art car while using legal threats to stop that same art car from even saying that they’re going to be at Burning Man on their Web site, and demanding that they take down photographs of the art car at Coachella – covered in The Fishy Smell of Corporate Excess.
Well, last night a pretty high-level BMOrg insider told me that the Guardian got it wrong. Way wrong. Here’s what the original story said:
When I asked Brown about whether he paid the LLC for access and the right to use footage they filmed on the playa — something I know it has demanded of other film and photo projects — Brown paused for almost a full minute before admitting he did.
“We saw it as location fees. We’re making an investment, they’re making an investment,” he said, refusing to provide details of the agreement. “The arrangement we had with Burning Man is similar to the arrangements anyone else has had out there.”
Goodell said the LLC’s standard agreement calls for all filmmakers to either pay a set site fee or a percentage of the profits. “It’s standard in all of the agreements to pay a site fee,” Goodell said, noting that the LLC recently charged Vogue Magazine $150,000 to do a photo shoot during the event.
According to our source, that story is not accurate. In fact, Vogue offered them this much money, and BMOrg turned it down. Or perhaps, BMOrg named their price, and Vogue turned them down. Anyway, the exchange of $150,000 for a photo shoot for Vogue, apparently never happened.
The source did not want to go on record with this , but gave me permission to publish. Read into that what you will. If this is true, then it’s surprising that BMOrg didn’t try to set the record straight with an official statement.
The Pornj cone of Disorient – a beacon of high class debauchery
Vogue certainly seems to love Burning Man. They had a piece written by the lovely Disorient Burner Yvonne Force Villareal in 2009. There was a Burning Man photo shoot by David Mushegain in French Vogue in 2010. Burning Man was featured again in French Vogue in August 2012. There was also a Burning Man piece in British Vogue in 2010, and in Australian Vogue in 2011. A recent issue of Vogue has top designer Marc Jacobs naming Burning Man as his primary inspiration for his 2014 collection (fashion designer Manish Arora was also inspired by Burning Man for a collection he debuted at Paris Fashion Week in 2013).
Vogue has also just named Burning Man on it’s “New Social Calendar” of the places to be for the jet-set in 2014:
Burning Man, August 25-September 1 Once a hippy gathering in the desert, the Burning Man festival is now the number-one event to see and be seen at. Private jets fly in and out (with Google kingpins Larry Page and Sergey Brin sitting on two of them); Eugenie Niarchos, Bettina Santo Domingo and P Diddy frolic and play cricket in the sand; and everyone forms lifetime bonds. Wear: As few clothes as possible. Tip: Book a decent RV six months ahead of the festival.
Their 767 has hammocks and California King beds in each of their bedrooms. Seats up to 50.
There are almost no jets landing at the Black Rock City airport, out of 1000+ aircraft this year. I know of one Citation CJ2 that was brought in once, and there’s usually one or two Pilatus PC-12 turboprops. Larry and Sergei’s main plane is a converted ex_Qantas Boeing 767, called “a party airplane” by their CEO Eric Schmidt. They get discounted fuel from the Pentagon and NASA, and they have their own private landing strip close to their office, at Moffett Field (at least, until their own private terminal at San Jose airport is completed!)
Google’s light attack jet – infrared detectors pick up Facebook grilled cheese sandwiches from miles away
The 3 top Google executives own 8 private jets and two helicopters between them, they also have a 757, two Gulfstream V’s, and a fighter jet. I’m pretty sure they didn’t take any of this fleet to Burning Man this year. But hey, nobody reads Vogue for the articles, do they?
let me know if you see this bad boy landing at Burning Man. It would be quite the dust cloud
Personally I find Scribe to be a very credible journalist, and have difficulty believing that he could get something so important, so completely wrong. His book The Tribes of Burning Man is excellent. I know that he has recordings of the interviews he conducted for his story, and there is more that he did not yet publish.
Scribe this year wrote a piece from the Playa, saying that he was officially giving up his struggle to call for democratic leadership of Burning Man, or at least some form of representation of Burners in the decision making about our culture, as it relates to That Thing In The Desert.
this is the way it’s always going be, year after year, like a dusty Groundhog Day on acid. Only the numbers and faces of the citizens and the things we create for one another will change.
It’s perfect, right? No reason to change a thing. What God (or, rather, Larry Harvey) has created, let no burner presume to alter.
That’s an idea that most burners seem to embrace, despite the beloved pastime of veteran burners to kvetch and celebrate some storied golden age, whether it be 1986, 1996, or 2006. We all just appreciate the chance to build a city for ourselves each year and the leaders of Burning Man for giving us that opportunity, again and again.
And I’m now joining those who accept Burning Man as it is, hereby officially dropping my struggles against Larry, Maid Marian, and the rest of Black Rock City LLC board to create some form of representative or democratic leadership for the Burning Man and its culture.
It’s been a lonely and frustrating crusade anyway, so I’m happy to be done with it (as I’m sure they are). I’ve been regularly covering Burning Man for my newspaper, the San Francisco Bay Guardian, since 2004. My reportage formed the basis of my book, The Tribes of Burning Man, which came out in 2011 just as the LLC board was being torn apart by internal divisions that they resolved by deciding to turn control of Burning Man over to a new nonprofit they were creating, The Burning Man Project.
The prospects of that change in leadership seemed exciting, and I imagined a council of veteran burners representing our community’s constituent communities – artists, DPW, sound camps, volunteers, art car makers, regional leaders, maybe the biggest villages – gathering around a table to plan the future of Burning Man. It might get messy, but things worth doing usually are.
First, I took issue with Larry’s announced plans to create secret payouts for the six board members, but nobody except Chicken John seemed to care about that. The predominant view seemed to be that they had done us all a great service and they deserved whatever it was they wanted to pay themselves.
Fine, so then I publicly questioned the hand-picked nonprofit board, which seemed chosen for their fundraising ability more than the communities they represented. Again, no resonance, so I accepted it and moved on. Maybe money was what was important in the early stages, and new leadership would come later.
And I was totally willing to just let it go and move on, until earlier this year when I watched the new documentary, “Spark: A Burning Man Story,” which concludes with the claim “the organization is transitioning into a nonprofit to ‘gift’ the event back to the community.”
So I decided to plug back into covering Burning Man to check on the status of this gift with just a year to go until Larry had said that control of the event would be transferred to the new nonprofit. But rather than relaxing their grip on the event and entrusting it to the community, I learned that they consider their leadership “more important than ever,” as Marian put it.
Not only are The Burning Man Project board members still not representative of the overall community, but they have no authority over the event, which Larry wants to continue as is “without being unduly interfered with by the nonprofit organization.”
Sure, the LLC and its various fiefdoms can unilaterally change its contracts with artists, its policy on what kinds and how many art cars to license, its ticket pricing structure, and size of the city (the max population this year jumped to 68,000 from 60,000 last year), all without any input from the community. It can cut lucrative side deals with corporations and propagandists. But we can’t have the new nonprofit board making these sorts of decisions, that would be unthinkable.
also heard last night: General Wesley Clark did NOT arrive at Burning Man on this Black Hawk. So which bad boy was rolling with this? A Blackhawk is some serious shiznit. Last seen in the direction of Disorient
“The nonprofit is going well, and then we have to work out the terms of the relationship between the event and the nonprofit. We want the event to be protected from undue meddling and we want it to be a good fit,” Larry told me.
The lesson: as long as we can get to Black Rock City, we don’t really care who’s calling the shots. After all, it’s really all of us who create the city each year for our own enjoyment, and that’s what matters, not the six people who control the $23 million we all spent on tickets this year.