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Traditionally held in May, rally organizers announced well before the novel coronavirus that the 2020 event would be moved to October for several reasons—including competition with graduations, Mother’s Day, and Memorial Day, as well as for potentially better weather. The rally committee hoped that by moving to October, there would be fewer scheduling conflicts, and more pilots could participate.
Then the pandemic emerged. But the rally will persevere, with the 56th Annual Hayward Air Rally taking place October 3, flying a normal course with two, 250-mile legs—albeit with an abbreviated format.
The Hayward Air Rally is not a race; crews fly against their planned time and fuel consumption. Scoring emphasizes traditional flight planning and pilotage skills. Every second, and fraction of a gallon, higher or lower than planned will earn penalty points and scoring is like golf—the lowest number wins. AOPA Pilot tagged along on the 2017 rally.
“What we have dispensed with is the Thursday arrival at Hayward Executive Airport with impound, registration formalities, and the course briefing,” explained Chris Verbil of the Hayward Air Rally Committee. “Saturday would have been at the rally destination with recreational activities and the evening awards dinner and presentations. Sunday would be the fly-home day. So we’ve made our Friday ‘fly day’ on a Saturday in the hopes that those who have resisted entering before because of the multiday commitment now have a lower barrier to entry.”
Verbil said the rally briefing will be conducted online October 2, the afternoon prior to the rally, and the course information will be released at noon that day so pilots can look for the checkpoints and begin their planning.
“Face masks will be required any time pilots are out of their planes, and/or interacting with other people,” he noted.
Rally aircraft will depart Saturday morning from Hayward, California; navigate to Meadows Field in Bakersfield, refuel; and then continue to Tracy Municipal Airport in Tracy. “Pilots then fly home afterwards,” Verbil said. “We’re anticipating that our entries are all going to be from Northern California—which, so far, has been the case with all the entries we’ve received.” He said about 20 aircraft have registered to date.
The awards presentation, conducted online using Zoom, is planned for the following day.
Organizers say the rally, which grew from a personal challenge in 1965 between pilots who also were Hayward city officials, is the longest continually held proficiency flying
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