Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome

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Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome
Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome Logo.png
Established 1966
Location Red Hook, New York
Type aviation museum
Collection size Pioneer Era aircraft
WW I aircraft
Golden Age (1919-39) aircraft
Public transit access Rhinecliff-Kingston (Amtrak station)
Website http://www.oldrhinebeck.org/

The Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome is a museum of World War I and Golden Age aircraft and antique automobiles that is located in Red Hook, New York, USA.


The aerodrome was the creation of Cole Palen, who was partially inspired by the Shuttleworth Collection in England. He regularly flew many of the aircraft during weekend airshows as his alter-ego, "The Black Baron" (loosely based on the Red Baron). These airshows still continue mid-June through mid-October, and biplane rides are available before and after the shows.

The simple early shows led to a philosophy of not only showing the aircraft in their natural environment, but also providing a fun and entertaining day out for the whole family. From this the air show that the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome was to become famous for what was developed. This included a zany melodrama, inspired by the storylines of silent film melodramas of the past, featuring Palen-created characters such as the daring Sir Percy Goodfellow doing battle with the evil Black Baron for the hand of the lovely Trudy Truelove.


Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome features numerous aircraft ranging from Wright-era reconstructions to biplanes and monoplanes of the 1930s. Among Palen's earliest additions to the museum in the mid-1960s was a Fokker Triplane reproduction, powered with a vintage Le Rhône 9J 110 hp rotary engine. It was crafted by Cole Palen for flight in his weekend airshows as early as 1967 with FAA registration N3221, and actively flown (mostly by Cole Palen) within the weekend airshows at Old Rhinebeck until the late 1980s.[1] This aircraft, and a pair of Dr.I reproductions, each powered by radial engines, were flown for nearly two decades by Palen. Both Cole's first rotary-engined reproduction, and the second of the stationary radial-powered reproductions, are now on static display. One of these is on loan at the New England Air Museum with the Le Rhône engine.[2] The Allied opponent for Palen's Triplane in the early years was mostly provided by the Sopwith Pup reproduction built by his colleague Richard King, also powered with a rotary engine (an 80 hp Le Rhone 9C) — the Pup is now flown with its WW I vintage rotary engine by its current owners, the Owl's Head Transportation Museum of Maine.[3]

In 1971 a replica was produced of the 1910 Short S.29 using a 60hp ENV V-8 engine.[4]An accurate Sopwith Dolphin reproduction was built by Palen. Powered by a vintage direct-drive Hispano-Suiza V-8 engine, this aircraft regularly flew at Palen's weekend air shows from 1980 onward. In September 1990, the aircraft's engine suffered a fuel pump failure, resulting in a crash landing into the trees surrounding the Old Rhinebeck museum's airstrip, with little damage to the reproduction Dolphin's airframe and no injuries to the pilot.[5] The aircraft never directly struck the ground in the crash, and largely remained suspended in the tree canopy after the accident. The Dolphin was placed on static display until November 2007, when Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome began restoring it to flying condition. When completed, the aircraft will once again be painted in the markings of No. 19 Squadron.[6]

Another German aircraft in the collection is an Albatros D.V reproduction, which is finished in the colors of Eduard Ritter von Schleich. It is powered by a modified six-cylinder Fairchild Ranger engine, fitted after the original liquid-cooled Mercedes D.II engine sheared its crankshaft.

The collection also includes a restored 1909 Bleriot XI (including an original three cylinder Anzani radial engine), with U.S. civil registration N60094, that is believed to be the second oldest airworthy aircraft in the world

Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome has had two airworthy D.VIII reproductions, each powered with a restored Gnome 9N Monosoupape rotary engine, both being built by Brian Coughlin of New York State — these have since been sold to Javier Arango in California for his private collection of reproduction WW I aircraft, and to Kermit Weeks' Fantasy of Flight living aviation museum in Florida.[7][8]

Fatal accident[edit]

On August 17, 2008, around 4 p.m. during the performance of a simulated dog fight at the aerodrome, Vincent Nasta of Wading River, New York died of injuries sustained when his plane crashed in to a heavily wooded area 1000 feet from the runway and performance area. The aircraft being used was part of the aerodrome's World War I collection and was reported to be a reproduction French Nieuport 24. It was the first fatality during an airshow at the facility.[9][10][11][12]



  1. ^ "Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome - America's Original Living Museum of Antique Airplanes - Fokker Dr.I." oldrhinebeck.org. Retrieved: 18 January 2013.
  2. ^ "Fokker Dr.1 Triplane Replica." New England Air Museum. Retrieved: October 10, 2014.
  3. ^ "Owl's Head Transportation Museum — The Aircraft Page — 1916 Sopwith Pup (Representation)." othm.org (Owl's Head Transportation Museum}. Retrieved: January 16, 2014.
  4. ^ Air Progress, September 1971.
  5. ^ King 1997, pp. 215–224.
  6. ^ "Sopwith Dolphin." Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome. Retrieved: October 10, 2014.
  7. ^ Fokker D VIII (in USA) (YouTube) (YouTube). Polk City, FL USA: huevparolbla. 2008. Event occurs at 2:35 to 4:05. Retrieved March 18, 2014. 
  8. ^ "Fantasy of Flight Aircraft — WW I — 1918 Fokker D VIII." fasntasyofflight.com, March 18, 2014.
  9. ^ "Fatal plane crash during air show." Mid-Hudson News, August 17, 2008.
  10. ^ Burke, Cathy. "Plane crash at Rhinebeck Aerodrome." New York Post, August 18, 2008.
  11. ^ "Veteran pilot dead after crash in New York air show." Fox News, August 18, 2008.
  12. ^ Marano, Greg and Christine Pizzuti. "Pilot in fatal crash identified|." Poughkeepsie Journal, August 18, 2008.


  • King, Richard. "Pushing My Luck (One Time Too Often)". The Skies Over Rhinebeck: A Pilot's Story. Bloomington, Minnesota: Jostens, 1997. ISBN 0-96613-350-1.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 41°58′11″N 73°51′52″W / 41.969816°N 73.864346°W / 41.969816; -73.864346