Guidelines for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles at Burning Man

Dronetastic! (photo via Wired UK)
Dronetastic! (photo via Wired UK)

Participants flying unmanned aerial vehicles (aka drones, RC airplanes, etc.) have developed a set of best practices for flying at Black Rock City this year.

The best practices came out of a July 17 “Drone Summit” at Burning Man headquarters that had 40 in attendance and an estimated 100 on a teleconference. Burning Man organizers arranged the summit following participant complaints from BM2012 that included UAVs flying over crowds at the Man burn, one UAV flying at the Temple burn, and a concern that UAVs with cameras were invading peoples’ privacy.

The best practices developed by participants were modeled on safety guidelines adopted by the Academy of Model Aeronautics and updated to address the unique environment of Black Rock City. The entire list of guidelines is here, but the highlights include:

  • All UAVs carrying cameras will register with Media Mecca and each UAV will carry a unique registration number on a small decal on the vehicle.
  • Operators will avoid flying over crowds and populated areas.
  • Operators will avoid flying during the Temple burn.
  • No flying near the Black Rock City airport or helipads.
  • No flying near the Man any time Saturday the day of the burn.

Anyone with a concern or question can report it at Media Mecca in Center Camp. If the concern is regarding a specific vehicle, it will help to get the vehicle’s identification number (UAVs typically have very short flight times). Burning Man organizers will be assessing how well the guidelines were followed and participants’ concerns as part of a post-event review.

Happy flying!

About the author: Burning Man Project

Burning Man Project

The official voice of the Burning Man organization, managed by Burning Man Project's Communications Team.

11 Comments on “Guidelines for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles at Burning Man

  • Spangles says:

    these sound good and practical! Thanks for respecting the wishes for everyone during the burning of the temple! These seem to strike a great balance between privacy of the burners, and the artists looking for a unique perspective for photography!

    well done!

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  • ezo says:

    thank you! the drone at Temple burn 12 was a real pest.

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  • Pink says:

    A copy of the actual guidelines are available here:

    They do not mention the requirement that “each UAV will carry a unique registration number on a small decal on the vehicle.”

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  • Skydiver says:

    As a skydiver jumping at Burning Man I can’t help but post to this regarding drone use. One thing I’d like to add that I wish were on these guidelines is that skydiving operations will be going on Wed – Sat. We mostly land at 5 o’clock of the inner circle and at the airport. If you are going to be in those areas please be aware of skydiving operations! The last thing we want is a skydiver/drone entanglement at 400 feet.

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  • Nick says:

    Might I add to that different colors of neon tape or stickers should be added to each drone and a different color or pattern of colors should be used to identify each drone individually. so that if someone does have an issue with a specific drone they can easily identify it without having to chase it to the base camp. this can be a simple and easy solution to identifying drones that are in the air at higher altitudes.

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  • Roger H says:

    How about no super intense UV lasers that can blind you in about one second? How does that sound compared to being concerned about someone seeing your bare legs, arms, or *gasp* breasts. Personally I’m far more concerned about my eyes than all of this.

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  • Ziggy says: Supports Safe flying.. But really Privacy concerns? Um its burning man and people are walking around butt naked.. :) Have fun guys and fly safe!!

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  • David Aaron says:

    Operators please be aware of the Skydiving operations! Wednesday-Saturday from about 11am to sunset.. It may be the best idea to land your aircraft until all canopies have landed safely. Typically they do land around the 5-oclock and esplanade area, or near the airport, but have been known to land anywhere on the esplanade! So please be careful! Thanks!

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  • Space Junkie says:

    Beware the NSA drones and administration strikes. The BLM loves them naked hippies to take out.

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  • Sleeping Dragon says:

    In reply to what “Nick” wrote.

    Adding that much tape to something that is already perfectly balanced, would then make it unbalanced. That would make the aircraft a hazard to fly. If your on playa anyways, more then likely you have a bike. Just follow it when it lands. You’ll see the person flying it. Speak to them about your concern. Don’t badger, just voice your concern in an appropriate manner, then leave the person alone. Tell someone that works for All done. Go about your burn! :-)

    I plan on bringing at least 1 aircraft to the burn this year. I’ll have a plane, with orange and blue tape on it. Come say “Hi!”

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