(Instagram/Black Rock Helicopters)
Burning Man — the annual festival held in Nevada's Black Rock Desert — kicked off August 27. Though tens of thousands of people travel there by car, those who can afford it choose to touch down on the playa by private plane or helicopter.
Every year, volunteers build Black Rock City Airport from scratch on a dusty road a week before the festival starts. As USA Today notes, crews section off runways, make customs checkpoints, and direct planes and 'copters when they arrive. Neither the FAA nor the TSA is officially associated with the BRC airport, but they keep in close contact with airport's managers.
Not every Burner that uses the airport is ultra-rich, but most of the Burning Man's wealthiest attendees arrive there. Paris Hilton, for instance, flew into the playa by helicopter with a group of friends mid-way through the 2016 festival.
Helicopter companies also offer special charters just for Burning Man. Santa Monica-based company Burner Air, for example, is offering direct, private flights from Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Reno to the playa.
"Our flights land on the playa at Black Rock City Airport so you can be at your camp within minutes of landing," its website reads. "Burning Man flights start at $599 and are a great way for Theme Camps to fly to Burning Man. Avoid the traffic and travel in style."
Black Rock Helicopters is also advertising a ride between Reno, Nevada, and the Black Rock City Desert on a S76 jet. The company recently posted an Instagram of Will Smith, who presumably took a chopper to the playa.
The video below, which boasts that the helicopter has room for eight people and 600 pounds of cargo, makes it look pretty luxurious. White girls in the ad even wear fashionable lingerie and native-American–style headdresses, despite numerous other Burners recent pleas against the cultural appropriation.
Though Black Rock Helicopters doesn't post the price for its service, Burners often pay between $500 to $2,500 for other similar, luxury charters (depending on the plane and distance). Here's one from Santa Barbara Helicopters, which decorated the craft's interior with colorful pillows and rugs for Burners.
In recent years, some Burners have spoken out about the exclusive nature of people flying in on jets. Larry Harvey, the festival's founder, wrote in 2014 that wealthy Burners who throw their own exclusive ragers on the playa clash with the fundamental principles of Burning Man: self-reliance and community. In the recent years, billionaires like Google's Larry Page and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg have also been spotted on the playa with the who's who of Silicon Valley.
But a fancy ride and luxe party sure do look good on Instagram.
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