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Hello fellow RC pilots and hobbyists! Black Rock City has a very crowded airspace, so we want you to be aware of some of the things you might encounter in the air above the city. There is a very busy airport, skydivers, long blinky strands of balloons, and many artworks that may extend up into the airspace above the city. Below are some fresh guidelines put together by a few volunteer RC pilots and fellow Burners who want to encourage the safe and responsible use of radio control unmanned aerial vehicles (RC/UAV) on the playa.

  1. Be safe! Avoid flying over large crowds or densely populated areas. If you crash into a crowd you can seriously injure people. Follow the AMA safety code when flying any RC device. If you injure someone, you are responsible.
  2. If your RC/UAV has a camera and you will record video/still photos from it, you need be aware of the video and photography guidelines in Black Rock City. Additionally, all RC/UAV with cameras need to register with Media Mecca*.
  3. Don't fly near the airport. The airport is located at 5:00 and the trash fence. (See map)
  4. Don't fly near the emergency helipad - Located near Point 1, and another by the airport, usually set up quickly (for emergencies, duh) so stay away from that whole area.
  5. On the day of the Man burn (Saturday, September 1, 2013), RC/UAV, helicopters (be they full sized or models) or any other aircraft shall not be flown within the borders of the Great Circle (around the Man) from 7 AM until after the conclusion of the show.
    1. The primary reasoning for this is that the pyrotechnics can be set off by static electricity which is caused by any aircraft, therefore creating a very hazardous environment for the pyrotechnics crew working on, in, and around the structure.
    2. Secondarily the possibility of loss of control of the aircraft could cause damage to the structure, Man Base, or harm the working personnel in the area.
  6. Join the RC/UAV mailing list and say hi to other RC/UAV pilots!
  7. Flying around the temple during the burn is greatly discouraged and could lead to a ban in 2014.
  8. If you are not using an FRSS radio (ie. you are using a 72Mhz or 27Mhz radio that uses specific channels) please email your channel request to to reserve your channel.
  9. Consider using a spotter / assistant to help keep an eye out for dangers or to handle observers coming up to talk to you while flying.
  10. Weather in BRC can be very unpredictable and dangerous. Wind gusts come and go, along with zero visibility dust storms. Be aware and don’t fly during bad weather, and be ready to land quickly if you see a dust storm coming.
  11. Be aware that BRC is at an elevation of about 3,900 feet, which means your props will be less efficient at keeping your RC/UAV in the air. Be ready for reduced flight times because of this.

* Note: The media form says you donít need to register for personal use, but that exemption does not apply for UAV pilots.


Historically RC aircraft have not been required to register for use on the playa. A volunteer has maintained the email since 2001, and he helped coordinate RC transmitter frequency and supplied some basic info on flying in BRC.

In general, RC/UAV have become more popular over the last few years in BRC, so the goal of this document is to establish some best practices when flying at Burning Man and to make sure pilots are aware of potential dangers.

In 2012, at least two RC/UAV were observed flying over the crowds at the Man burn. An RC helicopter was also flown during the temple burn, to the annoyance of many participants. In response, the BMOrg held a drone summit, and established a mailing list for RC/UAV pilots to create some guidelines for future use of RC/UAV at Burning Man.


  • Do I need to register if my RC/UAV does not have a camera?
    • No. This policy is only for people using their RC/UAV for filming, and is essentially the same as the regular photography policy. BUT, you should still be aware of the possible dangers in the airspace above the city.
  • Do I need to register if I’m only planning on using my footage for personal use?
    • Yes.
  • Skydivers? Where?
    • Burning Sky typically conducts some low-key familiarization jumps on Wednesday and Thursday, and plan organized aerial art jumps from Friday through Sunday. Their jumps are uncoordinated in the sense that--although they may set up a specific Landing Area--they may also decide to land en masse at certain art installations. They may also skydive at night with pyrotechnics.
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