The sport of Air Rally Flying is a two crew operation, with a pilot and navigator. The emphasis here is on accurate plotting and observation. The penalties are weighted accordingly. The navigator is given a sealed envelope 15 to 30 minutes prior to take off. The envelope contains clues for each turning point on the route. The navigator has to pin-point the turning points on the map based on these clues and in order to compute the track for the pilot to fly. This is often completed in the air and is a real challenge for the crew. A word of warning here, if you are a husband and wife team you might not be when you land!! The pilot also has photographs to find and record the position of these on a special sheet. Photographs for the turning points are also supplied. These photographs may or may not be accurate, so giving you a true/false situation to contend with at each turning point.
A GPS logger is placed into the aircraft for the flight. This enables the organisers to get a detailed printout of the actual track of the participant, as well as split second timings at turning points.
Then just as you thought that this was getting a bit hectic there may be an away landing to contend with as well as a return landing that will count for points. Timing is a critical aspect of the flight with most turning points being timed and again accuracy to the second is required. Well that sums up Rally Flying, if you can do all this it can only help improve your flying skills.
History of Precision and Rally Flying
The concept of Precision and Rally flying started in the Scandinavian countries between the two world wars. The object was to create a set of skills that combined hunting, flying and cross country skiing. So imagine flying to some remote location, landing in the mountains, skiing to a likely spot, shooting some target (animals or enemy) and then flying off to the next spot, to repeat the exercise. This sounded like a good idea at the time and for a few years the concept caught on with the Scandinavian countries, with regular competitions being held.
After the second world war more countries became interested in the concept and over a period of years a set of rules was drawn up that separated out the flying aspects only. Later two disciplines evolved, those of Precision and Rally Flying. The main difference between the two is that Precision Flying is a solo effort by a single pilot while Rally Flying is a two crew operation.
For many years the Scandinavians dominated the sports, but as acceptance was gained and the sports grew in popularity the former eastern block countries came to dominate the scene. Now with the economic changes sweeping Europe, the sports are pretty much open to everyone. The Southern Hemisphere countries are coming into their own and are starting to represent a serious threat to our cousins up north. World Championships are held on a bi-annual basis.