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First Time Participant Information
This page is intended for people who plan to (or are considering whether to) participate in the annual Hayward Air Rally.
1. What is the Hayward Air Rally? Is it about speed like the Reno Air Races?
2. How much experience do I need to fly in this event?
3. Do I have to own my own plane?
4. What else goes on besides just flying the Rally course?
5. There are prizes?
6. When does the Rally take place?
7. What is this impound business? It sounds intimidating!
8. What does the Rally course look like?
9. Who are the guys marked as "Masters" in the scoring?
10. Sounds like fun! How do I enter the Rally?
This event is NOT about speed. It is more like an old-fashioned car rally - participants flight plan their time and fuel usage over the course, then fly the plan. Scoring is based on how close the actual flight came to the pre-flight estimates.
While the competition is well and good, realistically, as a first timer, you'll be learning. One of the goals of the rally is to promote flight proficiency and safety. You are sure to come out of the rally knowing more about cross-country flight planning, pilotage, and your aircraft performance than you did going in!
If you have a Private Pilot (or Sport Pilot with the towered airport endorsement) license you are ready. All the flight planning experience required to participate was covered in your cross country flight training. Student and recreational pilots are welcome, but must fly with an appropriately rated pilot acting as PIC. It is strongly recommended that a student pilots fly with a CFI so their experience can be logged as dual instruction.
No. Club/rental aircraft are welcome. Check to make sure your club doesn't have any restrictions, but if club aircraft are allowed to particpate in such activities as a poker run, this should be no different. You will have to confirm you have appropriate insurance coverage, either on your own or through the club, on the rally registration form.
The rally is as much a social event as it is flying. We have a hospitality suite at the destination hotel offering drinks, snacks, and a chance to swap flying stories with fellow pilots. The rally results are revealed at an awards ceremony following the event.
Of course! We have trophies and/or cash awards for top finishers as well as a variety of special categories that vary from year to year. These can include Best First Timer, Best Renter (we know this is more difficult in a rented plane), Red Baron for overcoming adversity on the course, and Tail End Charlie for last place.
Perhaps the best prize is that this year's winning airplane is next year's logo on the t-shirt!
See more about the awards and prizes here.
The dates change slightly each year, but generally in the May-June timeframe. This year, in 2023, the rally is a single day event on May 20, 2023. Historically, the rally was a weekend destination event with the following approximate schedule:
- Thursday PM: Aircraft impound and course briefing
- Friday: Fly the rally!
- Saturday: Destination activities and Awards Dinner
- Sunday: Head for home
A more complete schedule is here.
Don't worry. No law enforcement or towing companies are involved! Impound is the term we use to refer to the process of getting you and your aircraft checked in:
- Checking currency of your airman and medical certificate, and flight review
- Checking currency of aircraft registration
- Verifying race numbers are applied properly and of acceptable size
- Verifying cockpit equipment not suitable for the desired class of entry are covered/disabled. (The use of GPS or digital fuel totalizers requires entry in Digital Class.)
- Verifying aircraft fuel tanks are fueled to "race full" levels (a tank must be either empty, full, filled to a built-in marker in the tank, or filled to a single marked level on an otherwise unmarked dipstick)
Historically, the rally course consisted of two legs, each about 250nm long. In 2023, there will be only a single leg. The leg destination airports are known in advance, and the fly-over timing point associated with each destination rarely changes. However, each leg has three or four fly-over checkpoints that are not revealed until the briefing the day prior to the rally. The first time any competitors get to fly this year's specific course will be on the day of the rally.
Previous year's courses and example checkpoints may be found here. Note that in more recent years, we have also been posting the Rally Pilot's Operating Handbook ("Race Book") which you can review to get a good idea about rally procedures and how checkpoints are presented.
Anybody who has won the Rally twice is elevated to the Masters
Class. They compete only against other Masters. So don't
let their consistently good scores scare you off. You won't have
to worry about them for a couple of years. You might be able to learn something from them along the way. :-)