Hayward Air Rally prepares for takeoff

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Organizers note it’s less than 60 days from the start of the Hayward Air Rally from Hayward, Calif., to Oshkosh. More than 30 aircraft have entered to date, but organizers say they hope to have 50 to celebrate the rally’s 50th year.

Wonder what it’s like to fly in the air rally? Following is an account by Gil Takemori, who flew in the rally for the first time in 2013:

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Are you a ‘real’ pilot?

According to “experts” — whoever they may be — “real pilots” only fly taildraggers, don’t use GPS, and don’t cancel flights. But Air Facts blogger John Zimmerman says he has a different definition of a real pilot. “It starts with someone who is smart enough to stay alive while flying, and it ends with someone who has fun doing it.” See his list of 10 Things Real Pilots Do here.

Renting vs. owning

For many private pilots, renting makes more sense than buying an airplane. The ongoing costs of compliance, maintenance, and storage — added to the rising costs of fuel — can bring the hourly cost of flying your own aircraft within the range of renting one.

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Pilot bias

The first time I rode in a helicopter it was to chase down Donald Trump’s yacht. It would be another six years before I would get my own pilot’s license, so the pilot told me to keep my feet away from the rudder pedals and not to move them — no matter what.

I opened my mouth to assure him I wasn’t going to mess up this opportunity, but he cut me off. “Don’t take it personally. It’s my standard practice to tell anyone sitting in the seat next to me the same thing. Even the cameraman who flies with me all the time gets the same message. Every day.”

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The Frugal Pilot: Barter and trade

If your flying budget is tight — like mine — there are many ways to cut your flying costs without spending a lot of money. You can borrow, rent, trade or barter for some of the things you need.

Not everything aviation can be exchanged this way, but there are some — and each can save you money to buy more fun-fuel.

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