Video: The Burning Man 747 Has Been Abandoned in the Desert

Sep 16, 2018

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One of the awesome features of Burning Man the past three years has been a Boeing 747 hauled into the playa in ever-growing pieces by the Big Imagination camp. In 2016, the art piece started as just the top two passenger decks of the front of the 747. Since then, the camp’s volunteers have expanded it each year.

This year, the camp prepared a giant section of its 747 — complete with landing gear — as its festivity stage. After a massive operation to tow it into the desert, it was the center of attention as the largest “art car” of Burning Man 2018:

However, things haven’t gone so smoothly since the end of the festival. Whether it’s lack of funding to move the airplane or lack of appropriate storage space for the jumbo jet, the 747 has sat in the Black Rock Desert ever since. The catch: It’s not in “Black Rock City” — the location of Burning Man — but 12 miles farther into the desert.

It was found a few days ago by a private pilot, who decided to stop by and pay a visit:

The owner of the land where it’s sitting — the U.S. Bureau of Land Management — isn’t thrilled about the plane’s unauthorized move or its de facto storage location. While the 747 was allowed on the playa as part of the Burning Man recreation permit, that permit has now expired and the BLM considers it trespassing.

Rudy Evenson, acting communications chief of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management in Nevada, didn’t mince words when he spoke with the Reno Gazette Journal:

It was moved off the event site without BLM authorization. So its legal status is in trespass with unauthorized use. Bottom line is, we’re evaluating options for getting rid of it.

The Big Imagination camp now says it plans to “move it to a permanent location nearby,” but it seems that moving the plane 12 miles from the event site might have been the organization’s temporary solution for saving money for both storage and transport. After all, moving the 747 means disassembling it into pieces and transporting it 500 miles down highways — requiring police escorts, road closures and disconnected power lines.

The organization reportedly has private property nearby that it can use to store the piece until next year, but the BLM spokesperson notes that “there’s no road between the playa and this piece of private property where they’re proposing to put the vehicle.” Building a road isn’t possible due to it being a National Conservation Area.

Without going into detail the BLM says “everything is on the table as far as removing it,” with their preference that the Big Imagination camp remove it completely. And, for the sake of the awesome art piece, we hope it survives until next year.

H/T: Reno Gazette Journal

Featured image by Dustin Mosher via Instagram.

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