I Heart The Eye In The Sky

we be jammin'!

we be jammin’!

Traffic is one of the biggest nightmares at Burning Man. When you finally arrive at the tiny town of Gerlach, Nevada – your last place to stock up on gas and supplies before you hit the Playa – you still have a wait of many hours ahead of you before you get into the event. You will sit in a long line of vehicles in a single lane heading to the event, there is no need to overtake because you’re all going to be waiting for a long time once you get there. Once you turn off the blacktop and onto the dust, you are still miles and hours away from Burning Man. There is a separate area for Will Call, I suggest you keep right if you need to go there but you don’t have to. You have to make it past the inspection checkpoint (people boarding your vehicle and searching it, they won’t search for your drugs, but there are police with drug sniffer dogs walking outside vehicles parked in the line), past the greeters (people making newbies ring a bell and roll in the dust), slowly drive along the access road to the city, then find your camp. Pro tip: the higher the letter of the road, the longer it takes to drive along it. So if you’re camped at 10 & D, it will be faster to drive to A, drive along that to 10, then drive back up to D, than it would be to drive along the outer road of L or M. Speed is limited to 10 MPH on the Gate Road, then 5 MPH for all vehicles in Black Rock City, for dust reasons as well as for safety.

photo credit: Michael Holden

photo credit: Michael Holden

People have been asking us when is the best time to arrive to minimize the hours in the queue. The rules have changed so that the gates open at 10am Sunday now, so there is no historical data to use for this decision. Your guess is as good as mine! Please report back to us with your experiences. We’re @burnersdotme on Twitter, #burners.

This year, BMOrg are making more of an effort to keep the community informed about traffic conditions. Their official radio station, BMIR 94.5, will be broadcasting updates at the top of each hour. You can get the signal before you are near the event from iHeart.com, you can download the iHeartRadio app to your smartphone. You can also follow the traffic on Twitter @BManTraffic.

As well as Burning Man’s own rideshare board, BMOrg have teamed up with commercial ride-sharing companies Zimride and Amovens to facilitate trips. You can also arrive by bus or plane.

From JRS:

customsWant to know what the traffic situation is on Highway 447 or the wait time at the Gate? Beginning Sunday, August 24, we will begin broadcasting hourly traffic reports on BMIR 94.5 at the top of the hour. We’re aggregating real-time traffic information from Nevada Highway Patrol, Nevada Department of Transportation and our eye in the sky (ok, an IP traffic-cam on Poito Peak) to give you up-to-the-minute details on the drive to the event.

BMIR will be streaming via iHeartRadio again this year. You can download the app and tune in on your mobile device before entering the communications dead zones north of Wadsworth and south of Cedarville for a no-snark traffic update. Long wait time? Consider sitting tight until the back up lessens.

Wait? You want more? We’ll also be providing real-time traffic updates via Twitter. Just follow @BManTraffic.

BMIR will also begin reporting Exodus wait times and highway traffic reports onSaturday, Sept. 1 through Tuesday, Sept. 2.

Communication dead zones is an interesting concept. When I went to Juplaya a couple of years ago there was full signal on the Playa, and none of the 6 people in our group noticed any dead zones on the journey from Reno. Not that we were really looking, but it was strange when the same phones and carriers no longer got signal on the Playa later in the year at Burning Man. Do They use that spectrum for different purposes during the event?

black_rock_gerlachThis year the Jackedrabbit recommends Burners get their gas before you get to Gerlach or Empire, to improve traffic for everyone.

The only good solution is for people to gas up in Reno, Fernley, Nixon, Wadsworth or Cedarville. So please, do that.

Love’s Travel Stop in Fernley are open 24 hours and have RV dumping. Not sure about propane though.

The local Paiute Indian tribe have invited us to pass through their Pyramid Lake reservation, and have asked all Burners to please be respectful:

Pyramid Lake Nevada picturesThe Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe would like to invite all Burning Man travelers to its native and sovereign lands. The Tribe would also like to advise all travelers to SLOW DOWN AND KEEP YOUR DISTANCE while traveling through the Pyramid Lake Paiute Reservation. All of the State Routes on the reservation are two lane roads and the Tribe would like motorists to turn on their headlights during the day and night, and be aware of the dangers associated with high speeds on two lane highways.

Due to the number vehicles traveling to and from the Burning Man Festival, motorists are advised to be extra cautious while traveling on any of the State Routes that run through the reservation. The entire Pyramid Lake Paiute Reservation is an open range area for livestock; motorists are to be cautious of livestock that may be on the highways. While passing though the Tribal communities of Wadsworth and Nixon, the Tribe requests that motorists be cautious of children and courteous to Tribal Members that may attempt to cross the highway, or that are accessing their homes, businesses, or Tribal Services. For more important Burning Man travel information please visit this page.


Help Black Rock Travel Agency Build The Starport

Burning Man’s airport is the second largest in Nevada, while Black Rock City is operating. Their organizers, the Black Rock Travel Agency, oversee more than 1000 runway operations per year, from hundreds of planes. Now they need our help with their IndieGogo campaign, which ends today. They’re only up to 42% of their $30,000 goal…


“Starport is a new state of the art, beautiful, functional, and efficient pavilion space to host thousands of visitors at the Black Rock City Municipal Airport”


Burners, virgins, air-born and land-born: Welcome to Black Rock City Municipal Airport. You already know about Burning Man, but you may not know that the City boasts an active airport for it’s 70,000 residents and is the second busiest airport in the state of Nevada during the festival. First opened in 1999 and designated by the FAA as 88NV, it is inside the Reno MOA on aeronautical charts.

Assisting 88NV since its inception has been The Black Rock Travel Agency (BRTA), the airport theme camp of record–BRTA has been the fixed base operation (FBO) of choice for the BRC Municipal Airport since the beginning. We are passionate about large art in public spaces, and assisting our world-class airport in any way we can.

When you think airport, you probably envision a terminal of some sort to host pilots, passengers and airport staff – at the very least, a structure as a gathering area for the operation.

Over the years, these airport structures were utilitarian, functional, and whimsical, but then the bar was raised. In 2006 one of our pilots, Twilight + crew, created what was to become the central focus of the airport. The “Terminal” as it was known, was bigger and bluer than anything we had seen. It was also heavy and difficult to assemble and store–its life eventually gave out and the materials were re-purposed after three great years.

After the 2008 event it was clear we would need a bigger space that was easier to construct.  It was then that Michael Twing, Steve Ramseur and others created an efficient, resourceful, economic and larger structure that would get us through the next four years. Ultimately, this structure carried us through to 2013 when we launched a design competition for the next incarnation of airport space.

The design of Starport


Designed by architect Ross Smith, Starport won the worldwide design competition initiated by Luke Lukoskie (more on the competition here) for our new pavilion last year. Starport will be in a new class of architecture, one that is consistent with Burning Man being one of the largest outdoor art festivals in the world.

Starport is not your typical airport pavilion. It is a place where large-scale visual art is performed, community flourishes, and the desert pulses beneath an iconic structure with soaring shade wings and trusses.

A key feature of Starport is the Observation Deck, which will offer panoramic views of the city and runway.

Starport is designed around a simple truss pyramid, which is economical, sturdy, easy to assemble, disassemble and store, and will last many years.

Think of Starport as consisting of two main structural elements: one is the central truss (described above) and the other is a set of cables that tie the trusses to the ground and offer attachment points for the large shade sails.

Starport is perfectly suited for Burning Man. It is easy to store, durable, functional, and fun. Most importantly, it will be an event space for all that Burning Man has to offer. Please join us in this endeavor and make Starportyour next destination. 

Your donation will directly contribute to creating Starport: fully functional, long-lasting, elegant, and gorgeous. It is a timeless structure in the middle of nowhere, telling our artistic community at Burning Man, “You Are Home”.

We have received incredible support from our extended airport community over the years but it’s time to take things to the next level…

To realize Starport’s future, will require a total of $40,000 in our fundraising push: $10,000 has been slated from a variety of sources, so now we turn to Indiegogo for the remaining $30,000. 


To really kick things off we now turn to you, our loyal airport community, to keep the momentum flowing.

Here’s a closer look at how the money raised from this Indiegogo campaign will be spent.


In return for your individual donation, a bounty of acknowledgements and decorations will be yours, in addition to the ongoing rewarding benefits of being a member of the Burning Man BRC Municipal Airport Community.

Just as we did with the terminal in 2009, the many BRTA volunteers who are dedicated to the Black Rock City Municipal Airport’s success will constructStarport.

We are committed to being transparent and thorough in reporting our expenses during this process.

Black Rock Travel Agency is excited to contribute an art installation, breaking new ground for large public structures at Burning Man.

Starport will host a variety of events that will be sure to attract interest from the community and create a new and a significant destination and meeting place for all.

If you didn’t catch it earlier, we’d like to offer you a perk for your contribution. Check them out on the upper right of this page.  Any amount you can donate is appreciated!

Roll Like a Boss, and Fly to Burning Man

Burning Man is great, but it takes a long time to get home, and an even longer time to get home from home. Exodus took hours less last year, probably due to the reduced attendance. An unprecedented number of early access passes also sped up the entry for many. But still, we’re talking hours stuck in traffic and hours stuck in line, going in and then leaving.

airports not hereOf course, not everyone has to deal with the long lines and traffic. Black Rock City has its own airport, and the best way to arrive for many VIPs is by air. It’s less expensive than you might think. We just got the following email from the lovely Dionne, of Playa Air Express. She can arrange connecting flights from Reno, the Bay Area, LA, Vegas, and other parts of the country too.

It’s a great way to escape to the Grand Sierra for some pool time and spa treatments once you’re done. And it just might be the perfect gift for the Burner who has everything.

Burning Man| 2013 |Playa Air Express

Hello everyone. Playa Air Express welcomes you back to the ‘Homecoming’ event of the year-Burning Man 2013.

Even though last year there were some State and Federal regulatory challenges with those agencies trying to impose excessive rules & uncertainty to the event, I am happy to report the essence of Burning Man, namely artistic expression, independence, and creativity, will still remain intact so we can once again have a memorable ‘Party on the Playa’.

Playa Air Express will continue to offer round trip services from Reno, The Bay Area, Southern California, Las Vegas, and other neighboring States directly into Black Rock. 

We have worked diligently over the past several months to increase our aircraft fleet thus offering more options.  In addition, we have also partnered with a couple of RV service providers to accommodate those needs as well.

Playa Air Express welcomes back our existing clients, and we open our arms to the arrival of all the newcomers. We do appreciate your business.

I look forward to hearing from you soon to make your travel arrangements with us into ‘The Burn’. Please feel free to email me, or visit our website at:www.flypacificcoast.com for rates and availability.
Thank you for your continued support.

All the best,


Dionne Chinn
Playa Air Express | Pacific Coast Flight Solutions LLC.
Reno, NV. 89519

Here are the rates:

Departure/Arrival Cities

To and From BRC


Direct Service/Per Person

Round Trip

Direct Service/Per Person

Reno, NV.



Hayward, CA.



Van Nuys, CA.



Las Vegas, NV.




Airport Design Competition Winner Announced

by Whatsblem the Pro

Image: EcoLogic Design Lab

Image: EcoLogic Design Lab

The winning entry in the 2013 Burning Man Airport Terminal and Pilot’s Lounge Design Competition has been announced; the design chosen by a panel of judges was submitted by architect Ross Smith of San Francisco.

Thomas Rettenwender of EcoLogic Design Lab, the firm that judged the contest, writes:

After reviewing all the submitted projects received from around the world (including Shanghai, Austria, Canada, San Francisco, Hamburg, Columbus, Holland, … ) the judges had a difficult job of selecting the winning projects. Every single entry had interesting concepts and ideas to review and evaluate. Conditions in the Blackrock Desert are extreme, many projects may have been just to beautiful to subject to this degree of abuse ! Usually architects/designers want their buildings to fly, the concern of course is that the structures flyaway. The ability to assemble the structure under winds and sand storms made the designs with fewer parts stand out. There was also the desire to find an iconic shape that looked impressive from the sky and from the ground. After several weeks of review about ten projects were brought to the Burningman Headquarters, Market St. San Francisco and over the course of several hours of bagels, coconut water and vicious debate the final projects had to be selected – Our wish, however was to see all these projects being built – flying, blowing, flapping, tumbling, shining, rising up across the playa – and we hope the designers out there continue to pursue this goal. Good Luck and Congratulations to all entrants. We are grateful for the participation. We were very impressed with all the hard work they put in to the entries. It was an honor to review the designs.


Image: EcoLogic Design Lab

Image: EcoLogic Design Lab

Ross Smith’s design won accolades from the judges for its iconic shape, which will be easily recognizable to pilots from the air; it’s canny re-purposing of its own shipping containers as anchors; the lightweight, easy-to-install design; the small number of parts, and the mobility of the ‘wings,’ which can be dropped to shelter the interior in case of dust storms.

The rest of the competition results have been posted at EcoLogic Design Lab’s website.

The competition was judged by Thom Faulders, Eric Corey Freed, Michael Twing, Steve Ramseur, Thomas Rettenwender and Luke Lukoskie.

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