Las Vegas Sun

March 24, 2019

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Volunteers working to move Burning Man plane out of desert

RENO — Burning Man volunteers are working to get a partially reassembled 747 airplane that was on display during the counter-culture festival out of the Black Rock Desert.

The plane is still at the playa about three weeks after the event's flashy conclusion because of a series of logistical breakdowns, the Reno Gazette Journal reported Saturday.

Volunteers are in process of dragging the multi-ton aircraft off public land and onto a parcel of private land.

They are part way through the move, said Ken Feldman, the CEO of Big Imagination Camp, which built the airplane over the course of four years and shipped it to Burning Man.

"We started this. We're going to finish it," he said.

Burners from different camps have volunteered to return to the playa to help the Big Imagination Camp with the effort. Some are coming in from as far as Mexico City.

The Burning Man organization's Department of Public Works also took to a break from deconstructing the temporary Black Rock City to help.

The group's biggest challenge so far seems to be the soft playa.

The volunteers laid down rubber mats on the plane's path on Friday to protect the desert floor, but it seems the mats are too thin to hold the airplane, causing the landing gear to sink into the soft sand found at the edge of a dry lake bed.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management required the plane to be moved by Friday.

Feldman initially thought the work would take six hours. He now thinks it will take several days.

They will also need larger and heavier rubber mats to prevent the airplane from sinking again.

Feldman is working to rent the necessary gear from a contractor.

"This has been maybe one of the most difficult things I've ever done in my life," Feldman said. "And I'm fighting pneumonia. But you know what, sometimes you gotta get 'er done. You gotta suck it up and do it."

It's unknown whether the airplane will be allowed to come back to Burning Man in the future. The Burning Man organization did not offer comments on the situation or plane's future with the festival.