The winners of the 55th annual Hayward Air Rally, Rod Fite and Hugh Gregg, are in familiar territory.
Both pilots have each won the Rally previously, so this second win elevates them both into the Master Class for future rallies where they will compete only with other Master Class winners, according to organizers.
This year’s destination was Laughlin/Bullhead City International Airport (KIFP) in Arizona. The first leg was flown from Hayward Executive Airport (KHWD) to Meadows Field Airport (KBFL) in Bakersfield, California, for lunch and a fuel stop. The second leg was from KBFL to KIFP. This year’s course took contestants through Northern California, Southern California, and into Nevada and Arizona.
The longest continually-held flying event of its type in North America, this proficiency challenge offers aviators the opportunity to demonstrate their airmanship skills of fuel planning and cross-country flight. The goal: Get the least number of points.
There are two classes of competition: The digital class that allows the use of GPS navigation (and even digital fuel totalizers) and the traditional class for participants who elect to use “traditional” radio-based navigation aids even if their aircraft are GPS equipped. The digital and GPS equipment must be covered up for the rally at impound for the traditional class, organizers explain.
As a proficiency rally, the course is designed to exercise cross-country navigation and pilotage skills. Enroute checkpoints have included identification of such items as bridges, distinctive buildings, and unimproved (think emergency) landing strips.
Penalty points are accumulated for incorrectly identifying checkpoints, as well as deviating from time enroute and fuel estimates.
In the traditional class time errors accumulate at the rate of one penalty point for each second off the pre-flight estimate. Fuel errors are scored based on a percentage error of actual fuel used versus preflight estimated fuel required for each leg.
In the digital class time errors accumulate at the rate of three penalty points for each second off the pre-flight estimate. Fuel errors are scored based on a percentage error of actual fuel used vs. preflight estimated fuel required for each leg and multiplied by two.
In addition to the usual place awards, several other special awards were handed out — at both ends of the spectrum — including:
- Most Lost (largest distance to a checkpoint): Race 15, Ken Dyche and Nich Matteri, 20 nm.
- Worst Fuel Score: Race 15, Ken Dyche and Nich Matteri, 8.37 gallons total.
- Tail End Charlie (highest total score): Race 15, Ken Dyche and Nich Matteri, 961 points.
- Mike Halstead Excellence Trophy Masters Class: Race 73, Sam Sun.
Proceeds from the rally fund scholarships for young adults to the EAA’s Air Academy in Oshkosh. The scholarships cover full tuition and roundtrip airfare.