Bay Area Burners and loyal SFist readers will recall the saga of last year’s 747 jumbo jet being taken to Burning Man that ended up not being taken to Burning Man. Rejoice, dust bunnies and dirt ravers, because that 747 jumbo jet — technically known as The 747 Project and being built by the Big Imagination Foundation — is definitely going to Burning Man for 2016. The Big Imagination engineers and aviation nerds have procured their 747 jet and their brand new Indiegogo campaign has raised more than 35 grand in five days, so SFist spoke to the gang and got exclusive pictures of the massive aircraft being refurbished for revelry on the playa.
“The negotiations for buying a 747 are interesting, to say the least,” Big Imagination engineer Ken Feldman told SFist. But the 747 seen in these photos is indeed bought and paid for and now is now being renovated at the aircraft boneyard at the Mojave Air and Space Port. “There are several boneyards throughout the United States,” Feldman said. “It’s where planes go to die.”
Last year’s 747 Project was tripped up and delayed when Big Imagination lost a huge financial deposit on a storage space that they paid for but were not allowed to access. They’re still fighting to recoup that deposit and still experiencing a ripple effect of delays, even though they’ve procured the jet and a new boneyard storage space.
Image: Big Imagination via Indiegogo
“Because of the delays, we’re probably not going to be able to bring the entire plane this year,” Feldman explained. For 2016, the 747 will not be a gigantic art car but instead a walk-in art installation consisting of just the plane’s upper fuselage seen in the rendering above. That fuselage is two enormous sections, as you can see a slight difference in the shading of the front and back sections. “My guess is that we’re just going to able to bring the front and back,” Feldman said. “We’ll put those as an in-camp installation on the ground for this year. For 2017, we’ll continue to raise money and hope to transport the bottom for the full art car.”
Their Indiegogo campaign has had a smashing start, raising more than half of its $50,000 goal in just five days and offering some sweet aviation bags, captain’s hats and airplane-themed onesies. But that 50 grand will only pay for the transportation of one section of the plane, which has several sections. “The upper front is $50,000 [to transport],” Feldman said. “The back upper section is another $50,000, and the bottom with the two wings is another $140,000 to transport. I don’t know if we’re going to get $240,000 out of a crowdfunding campaign.”
Image: Saida Mouradova
The 747 Project team has grown to more than 100 people. “We have a lot of people helping on this in a lot of different ways,” Feldman told us. “We have all the people helping on the crowdfunding and on the marketing and on the social [media] side, just managing this project. And then we have had at least fifty to seventy different people that we’ve had out in Mojave helping us. So there’s easily a hundred plus people working on this project.”
Image: Heidi Kaden
“It’s gigantic, it’s bigger than The Temple,” according to Feldman. “On the ground, it’s still half a football field, two stories tall about three buses wide. It’s a monster.”
If you want to help build a monster, contribute to their Indiegogo page, keep an eye on the Big Imagination website for updates, and check out the fun airplane demolition in their crowdfunding video below.