There’s a new airport opening in Nevada today (Aug. 29, 2011) but you’ll need a ticket to fly there and it will be gone without a trace in 10 days. Burning Man, the formerly impromptu, uh, cultural gathering in the Blackrock Desert, runs until Sept. 5. About 50,000 people create an almost instant city where “radical self expression” is among the guiding principals. Well, few cities that size are without an airport and each year a group of Burning Man participants who are pilots and aviation enthusiasts create a temporary, FAA-designated (88NV) facility called Black Rock City Airport. In a podcast interview, airport Communications Director Dean Siracusa says the airport is laid out on the dry lake bed and features a 5,280-foot runway which can, and regularly does, accommodate light jets.
Although it’s an uncontrolled field with a Unicom (122.9), a temporary tower is set up and is often staffed by off-duty professional controllers. The airport features a pilot’s lounge and restaurant and even a customs office. There are established pattern procedures and even a sightseeing route and about 200 aircraft, from ultralights to the aforementioned bizjets, use it each year. Charter services also operate regular flights. As civilized as it all sounds, Siracusa reminds those thinking of flying in that weather and runway conditions are unpredictable and they should be well-versed in what they might expect. Also, because Burning Man is sold out this year for the first time, admission tickets will not be available at the airport. Those arriving without advance tickets will be turned away.