By MIKE CITRO
The Hayward Air Rally, which has tested pilot planning, navigation and flying skills on the West Coast for a half century, celebrated its 50th anniversary this year in a big way, with a final destination of Experimental Aircraft Association’s AirVenture in Oshkosh. The rally was conducted over three days, with scoring from Hayward, California, to Madison, Wisconsin. On the fourth day, the rally participants flew as a group into Oshkosh from Madison.
“Flying to Oshkosh was an unforgettable way to celebrate the Hayward Air Rally’s 50th anniversary,” said Chris Verbil, chairman of the rally. “Not only did our pilot crews demonstrate their flying and flight planning skills, they also were part of a wonderful group of aviators who raise funds to support young people in discovering aviation.”
The Hayward Air Rally raises funds for scholarships to the EAA Air Academy, the summer aviation residence program for teens held at the EAA Aviation Center in Oshkosh. In 2014, the rally gave seven scholarships to young people representing communities that hosted the 2014 rally stops and checkpoints. A total of 19 scholarships have been awarded by the Air Rally over the years.
The annual Hayward Air Rally gives aviators a chance to test their flight planning, navigation and pilotage skills. The actual course is announced just before the rally during the briefings (the checkpoints change every year and the exact course flown is chosen by the pilot). Each day’s course consists of two legs, each up to 250-300 nautical miles.
Along the way there are several checkpoints which must be identified. Prior to departure from Hayward each pilot turns in estimates of their times and fuel consumption for each of the two legs that they will fly that day. Since this was a three-day event, the times and fuel estimates were turned in on the morning of the next days’ two legs.
Rally participants were scored on a combination of:
- Identifying Check Points
- Matching Predicted Time (to the second)
- Matching Predicted Fuel Used (to the tenth of a percent)
Some of the highlights of the rally this year were to fly over both the Sierra Nevada and later the Rockies at Logan Utah and at Lander, Wyoming. This is some very beautiful and interesting country. Also the grandeur of “Big Mo,” the Missouri River, and the Mississippi River was unforgettable.
Rally participants were warmly welcomed at intermediate fuel/lunch stops. In some cases pilots were interviewed by the local media. The people that turned out to see the rally participants were warm and friendly, rally officials noted.
It was impressive to see two open cockpit aircraft competing in the rally. That had to be a challenge.
We were able to fly in to Oshkosh as a group and to be parked as a group in the camping area in the North 40. It was a great adventure for all.
Congratulations to the rally winners, Tom Neale and Bob Edwards, who won with just 132 points. See a full list of the participants and scores on the rally’s website.
According to organizers, 2015′s destination will be announced in the next few months, with the likely dates inJune.
“We will be back to a one-day event, which is usually impound on Thursday, plan the flight that night, fly out on Friday for the rally, with a banquet on Saturday night with most people returning home on Sunday,” organizers noted.
Here are more photos from the event: