Want to Be Manager of the Black Rock City Airport? Come Fly Right Seat This Year

Black Rock City Municipal Airport is looking for a new Calamity.

No, not the disaster kind but the doer variety. Airport Operations Manager “Calamity” Charles is stepping down from his role next year, and he’s looking for someone to learn the ropes by shadowing him this year.

Calamity has volunteered at the Airport since 1999, and became Operations Manager in 2013, watching it spread its wings from “a card table and a hole in the fence” to the buzzing city outpost it is today.

The airport has welcomed more than 2000 people during the event, arriving in both commercial charters and private planes. That number will increase with the new Burner Express Air program launched this year. It operates just like another Gate — although their “Customs Inspectors” are more likely to find phony drugs or dynamite than give you a soft landing.

It also operates like a satellite suburb of the city. The airport is around 1.5 miles from the Man, and most nights only a few of the 300+ volunteers “go into town” as they’re making their own fun out there.

There are events, art and art burns — and even the odd Theme Camp. One year, an AN-2 Russian cargo biplane parked just near the airport and served as its own Theme Camp.

“It’s a bit of a wild west culture with lots of freedom-loving pilots and sometimes Burners deciding to do their own thing on our airfield,” says Calamity.

Runway preparation starts in early August, and the Airport is built the week before the event. It’s fully operational the Wednesday before the event starts.

Calamity’s role involves project management; communicating and coordinating with other Burning Man departments and external agencies; reviewing and editing documents, some of them legal; and preparing for law enforcement and compliance on playa.

You can find more specific details in the job description below, but first a word from the man himself.

What’s your advice to someone who takes over your job? 

“Run. This job takes 100% commitment. During the summer, it is at least a 40 hour/week job — even with a personal assistant, which is crucial. Stay in touch with your folks. Support your managers but make decisions as necessary. Find people who can work on their own and if they can’t, find someone else. Good staff is everything. Finally, plan way ahead and have all of your data ready months in advance,” says Calamity.

Think you’ve got what it takes to be Airport Operations Manager? Here’s the job application.

Check out this video about the airport:

Top photo by Hawk

About the author: Jane Lyons

Jane Lyons

Jane Lyons (a.k.a. Lioness) spent around five years building and managing the Communications Team for Burning Seed in Australia and helping to drive the development of the event and community. But her Burner communities and involvement stretch beyond the confines of her country. She was part of the Temple of Transition crew in 2011, has turned her hand to other big art projects on and off playa (including the Temple for Christchurch), worked at Media Mecca, helped to run theme camps and build art at Nowhere, Kiwiburn and Italian Burning Weekend, and is now spending her time supporting Burning Man's Communications Team in San Francisco.