Fly-ins and rallies are great ways to get flight time, talk to other pilots, buy pilot gear and see other airplanes. There are fly-ins for all sorts of aircraft and events. Some fly-ins surround air shows while others feature homebuilt aircraft, helicopters and experimental planes. Some fly-ins are specifically geared towards veterans. Others are geared towards kids, and still others are geared towards getting people interested in learning how to fly.
Flying To A Rally
The best way to attend a rally is to fly there. In order to fly to a rally, you have to register with the airport and event. They typically want to know what type of aircraft you are flying, where you are flying from and what time you plan to land. This is so they know who’s attending with aircraft, when they’re going to arrive and how many aircraft are arriving. Generally, the aircraft are parked on the tarmac away from the main events in rows just like you’d see in a parking lot full of cars.
Flying to a rally is also a great way to get flight time. You can log the trip to and from the rally in your log book, and if the trip is long enough, it counts as a cross-country flight. Just remember to check the weather before your trip and during the day. When I flew to rallies and fly-ins, I always packed an overnight bag in case the weather turned bad while I was there.
Depending on the type of rally, it could be centered around an air show, antique planes, food, kids, veterans, or getting people interested in flying. No matter the reason, fly-ins and rallies are an incredible amount of fun. They are packed with food, flying, pilots and all sorts of different aircraft from high wing to low wing and even bi-wing.
Talk To Other Pilots
Rallies and fly-ins attract pilots from across the country and across the world, and every pilot has their own unique set of experiences and knowledge. It’s always informative to chat with the other pilots about their flying experience. I once met a pilot who made his living flying impounded drug running planes to locations where they could be repaired and sold.
See Other Airplanes
Rallies and fly-ins are also great places to see other airplanes. Airplane owners love to show off their aircraft and a wide variety of aircraft can be found at every fly-in. Pilots bring antique aircraft, experimental aircraft, home-builts, old World War airplanes and helicopters as well as many other types of airplanes and aircraft. Owners also love to talk about their airplanes and how they acquired them. Some are even willing to take people up on flights.
During one of the rallies I attended, a man brought an old radial engine aircraft. He was willing to take people up on flights just so they could experience flying in a radial engine aircraft with an open canopy. Needless to say, I took him up on the offer. Those types of experiences are once in a lifetime.
Buy and Sell Aviation Gear
Rallies and fly-ins are also great places to buy new aviation gear. Most rallies have retail tents set up by flight schools and pilots shops. When I was a flight instructor running a pilot shop, I filled out a vender application for a rally and showed up with a table, flight gear and bottled water. During the six hours I was there, I sold out of all my water and most of my flight gear. I also got to see the newest headsets and aviation gear that the other flight shops were selling. It was a great day for me and my pilot shop.
All in all, rallies and fly-ins are a blast and every private pilot should fly into one at least once. There’s food, fun, airplanes, pilots and flight gear. Each rally and fly-in is a totally unique experience and definitely worth attending.