Below is my coverage of the World War I portion of the 2022 Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome’s Sunday airshows.
The lineup fluctuated throughout the 2022 performance season. Several of the regularly performing machines had maintenance issues pop up, and the Pup was sent to a special performance at another museum, which required several weeks of preparation on each side of the performance. However, the daily lineup was still stacked, and the fleet received an additional aircraft with the arrival of the Brisfit.
Manufactured by the British, the Sopwith Pup was a formidable fighter aircraft when introduced in 2016. However, the Germans were also developing aircraft and the Pup was outclassed as soon as 1917.
Rhinebeck’s replica Pup was built in 1967 by Dick King, and flown for 21 seasons. It was sold to another New England Museum, which flew it for a number of years. In 2018, it was returned after a 10-year effort by current airshow performer, Brian Coughlin. Brian took on the task of getting the machine restored and flight worthy. The Pup returned to the skies in the fall of 2019.
Introduced in 1918, the D.VIII was both fast and nimble, characteristics that are strongly desired for a fighter aircraft. It earned the unofficial nickname “Flying Razor.” However, the design too late to make any major impact on the WWI air war.
The model flying regularly at the WWI shows is owned and operated by Brian Coughlin. Brian built the replica in 1994, and it is powered by a Gnome rotary-engine. The aircraft likely has the most distinctive sound of any of the current aircraft flying at the Aerodrome.
Brian is an extremely passionate and dedicated individual to the Aerodrome. He is very generous with his time after the shows, usually standing near the D.VIII, and is an absolute encyclopedia of WW I aviation knowledge.
Bristol F.2B Brisfit
The Brisfit is one of the new aircraft for the 2022 season. The aircraft has a crew of two, a pilot and rear facing gunner. The design was introduced in 1917 and remained in production until 1926.
The Aerodrome’s version is a reproduction, having been built in the early 198os for a movie roll. After several movies, it was placed into mothballs until recently. Chris Prevost donated the aircraft to Old Rhinebeck and it was restored to flight in early 2022. The paint livery is ‘B’ flight of No. 2 Squadron RAF serving in England in the post WW I era between 1924-1928. What an excellent addition!
The Wedding of Trudy Trulove and Sir Percy
These two love birds are fortunate to have a happy ending to their story. Percy is very fond of the lovely Trudy, but so is the notorious Black Baron. In fact, the Black Baron kidnapped Trudy to prevent her from marrying Sir Percy. She escaped and stowed away on the JN-4 Jenny. Somehow she jumped off the wing and survived the fall. The last photo shows the happy couple after their vows!
The Albatros D.Va is one of the most successful of the German designs of the first World War. The famous Red Baron himself, Manfred Von Richthofen, scored many of his victories in the type.
Rhinebeck’s Albatros is a reproduction built in 1975. In 2013, the aircraft was refinished in the current livery, which represents the aircraft of Hans Böhning of Jagdstaffel 36 / Jagdstaffel 76. This is probably my favorite of the German aircraft in the collection.
The SPAD’s markings represent the aircraft of Lt. George Turnure of Lenox, MA, who was credited with three confirmed kills. The aircraft is a reproduction, and was built in 2000. The SPAD was a well performing aircraft for the time period.
The DR.1 is arguably the most recognizable aircraft of WW I. Whether it was the Red Baron, or if it is attributable to Snoopy’s aerial battles in the Peanut’s comic strip cemented the legend, but the Triplane is very well known. The Red Baron was downed and lost his life while flying a DR.1.
Mr. Palen purchased the aircraft in 1987, and it has been a regular performer ever since, minus the required down time for various maintenance rotations.
The Aerial Dogfight
The climax of the Saturday show is the dogfight between Sir Percy and the Black Baron. Its always fun to see the planes doing what they were designed to do, even if it is scripted out.
This year, I am going to provide highlights from the entire 2022 season at Old Rhinebeck rather than do coverage for each individual show I attended.
This season was exciting with the addition of two new aircraft to the lineup, Several of the airframes that had been in rotation for a number of years were down awaiting overhauls or major maintenance, but you would never know it with the large volume of aircraft that fly each weekend.
The weekend themes remained unchanged for 2022, with the Saturday shows being “History of Flight” and Sunday’s “World War I”.
The History of Flight
The “History of Flight” shows covers three spans of time: The Pioneer Era (1896-1913), World War I Era (1914-1918) and the Golden Era (1919-1940).
The Pioneer Era spans the time of early aviation while the Golden Era shows the rapid develop of aviation up to the point of World War II. Since World War I has an independent show, I will cover the aircraft of the other two eras in this post.
De Havilland DH.82 Tiger Moth
One of the mainstays of the Aerodrome shows, the Tiger Moth along with another aircraft usually open the show with a ribbon cutting. The Tiger Moth was used by the British RAF and commonwealth allies as a primary trainer, and is an iconic biplane. It is very maneuverable and is an excellent airshow performer.
The Tiger Moth is owned and operated by the King family, longtime performers at the Aerodrome. Dave King is the usual pilot and also performs in several other aircraft, including the Triplane and Albatros.
Curtiss Pusher Model D
Likely my favorite aircraft of this era is the Pusher. The aircraft is a 1911 design, with this specific example being a replica built in 1976. The aircraft features a steering wheel style control yolk and requires a great deal of finesse to fly it safely. Matt Heuer usually pilots the aircraft and is a fun conversation to discuss flying the machine.
Etrich Taube – Model F
This aircraft is a new addition to the fleet for 2022. Designed by Austrian, Igo Etrich, in 1912, the Taube (Dove) was a very popular design for the time period. Several nations including Germany, Italy and the Austro-Hungarians used the aircraft in various duties. The type is believed to be the first aircraft used as a light-bomber.
The Aerodrome acquired the replica aircraft in early 2022 as a donation from the builder, Mike Fithian-Eyb. He desired to built the aircraft after he discovered that his grandfather had piloted the type back in 1912.
Curtiss JN-4H Jenny
Arguably one of the most iconic early American aircraft built, the Jenny is synonymous with the term “Barnstorming.” After WWI, the surplus aircraft were purchased at minimal cost, and the returning war pilots, now unemployed, purchased them and toured America. Many of these Barnstormers brought their planes into communities that had never experienced aircraft or flight. Many a Jenny inspired the dream of flight for men and women of the era.
Cole Palen, the founder of Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome, purchased the aircraft after a wreck in 1957. It was shipped to him in train cars and advertised as a standard JN-4. After the parts started coming out of the rail cars, it was determined that the aircraft was a -4H model, with a much stronger Hispano Souza motor, which increased the motor’s horsepower to 180. After performing for the Aerodrome from 1968-1998, the aircraft was fully restored in 2001 by Ken Kassens, who frequently pilots the aircraft each weekend.
Fleet Finch 16-B
Besides the New Standard, the Finch is likely the “workhorse” of the Aerodrome aircraft fleet. It performs many duties during the weekend shows. It is believed that this is the first aircraft to land at Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome. This Finch was built in 1942 and is one of 447 built. The type was used extensively by the Royal Canadian Aircraft as a training aircraft during World War II.
Mr. Palen purchased the aircraft in 1957, and later sold it. Another Finch was purchased and used for a number of years. When the new Finch was retired, the owner of the original was willing to sell it back to the Aerodrome in 2017.
The Wrong Brothers
The ORA community is fortunate to have innovative aviation minds nearby. Sadly, we did not get to see history in the making when the Wrong Brothers attempted their rocket powered experiments. The rocket jet pack appears to be the most likely to succeed based on the latest attempts.
Maybe one day we can say “I was there when…”
Boeing Stearman N2S-5
The other “big, yellow biplane” frequently seen at the Aerodrome is the Stearman. This version is the N2S-5, which is the US Navy’s designation of the popular “Stearman.” The Army gave it the designation PT-13 or PT-17, based on the engine used. For many an allied World War II pilot, the Stearman was the primary training aircraft that introduced them to flight. An icon in the aviation world.
This aircraft served at NAS Memphis and is owned and operated by Aerodrome pilot, Rob Williams.
New Standard D-25
The New Standard is an important aircraft to the Aerodrome. It is the aircraft used to provide rides throughout the season and is a way for the museum to earn extra funds. The red and black beauty is seen taking off and landing the entire weekend, and is the ultimate way to experience Old Rhinebeck.
Curtiss Wright CW-1 Junior
The Junior is a depression era design by Curtiss Wright, which was intended to be an affordable light aircraft option. The aircraft has a “pusher” design, placing the motor and propeller behind the pilot and passenger.
This aircraft is owned and operated by Aerodrome pilot, Brian Coughlin.
The Escaped Prisoner
One of the airshows was interrupted by the local authorities. An escaped “convict” had been seen in the area. He appears to have hidden at the end of the runway and stowed away on the Fleet 16. Thankfully, Sherriff Stew Sommerville was around and was able to blast him off the aircraft. Somehow, the Convict survived the fall and was apprehended unharmed. He was then taken back into custody and has since resumed prison life.
Great Lakes Sport Trainer
The Sport Trainer is a highly aerobatic aircraft designed in the 1930s. It was popular with the pilots and had great potential. However, the Great Lakes company went bankrupt during the Great Depression.
The Great Lakes is owned and operated by Matt Heuer. Matt flies a ribbon cutting, as well as a 1930s era aerobatic performance with the aircraft. Like the Tiger Moth, the Great Lakes is a very maneuverable and fun to watch.
Taylor E-2 Cub
The “Cub” is another iconic civilian aircraft. This is the original example of the Cub. The design has been modified over the years, and is still being built by homebuilders. The example owned and operated by Ken Cassens, and is an original aircraft.
This is the updated version of the original Cub design above. The J-3 variant of the Cub design would likely be on the Mount Rushmore of civilian sport aircraft if there was such a thing. Its versatility makes it popular to this day.
Fleet Model 1
Another sport biplane designed by Fleet. This is a 1930 version, and is an original aircraft. The markings replicate those of a Navy N2Y-1 version, designed to be attached to an airship (blimp) in the 1930s.
The Fleet is owned and operated by Dr. David Trost. Previously, the Fleet made appearances over the years being piloted by Richard Coughlin, father of current aerodrome pilot, Brian Coughlin. More on Brian in Part II. I have developed a good friendship with David over the last two seasons and look forward to getting to know the other pilots as the opportunity arises.
The Neighboring Farmer
The Aerodrome has been around since the late 1950s. However, over the years the neighboring farmer has yet to figure out that the weekends are full of activity, with the runway area being extremely dangerous. One day, he took matters into his own hands after getting drunk. He drove the tractor out to the J-4 Cub and stole the aircraft! Look at the absolute fear on his face trying to bring it back down for a landing.
The Pants Race
Usually, the Saturday shows conclude with the “pants race”. A handful of the pilots remove their pants and race from a stopped start, take off, make several orbits around the airfield and then land. The first pilot to land and get their pants back on is the winner.
Here Dr. Dave hops into the J-4 to participate in the race!
After a year long hiatus due to the COVID pandemic, airshows have returned at the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome. June 20th and 21st was opening weekend, and thankfully the weather provided for excellent flying conditions.
The weekend airshows are what make this museum something truly unique. Each day of the weekend has a different theme to the airshow. Saturday’s theme is “History of Flight”, which showcases the museum’s aircraft throughout the full spectrum of the early years of flight. Sunday’s theme is specific to aircraft from World War I, however some of the museum’s other aircraft also fly to provide some variety.
I had previously attended the WWI shows in the past, so it was a double treat for me this trip to see the Saturday show and to be there for the opening day. The aerodrome is nestled away from the normal travel routes. The field is just visible from the road right before pulling into the parking area. As I caught a quick glimpse, I could see that many of the aircraft were outside getting prepped for flight. Instant excitement ran through my body. I was glad I made the trip, and one aircraft had yet to fly.
Rides in the New Standard D25
For those visitors that wish to feel apart of the era, a ride can be purchased in the New Standard D25.
The above photos followed a specific couple. I watched the woman while waiting for the plane and her male companion talk to her to “ease her nerves”. When they took off, you can see her covering her eyes and the “I cannot believe I am doing this look” on her face. When they land you can see the relief and smile on her face.
Show Opening: Parachutes
The official show opening was two parachute jumpers. They took off in the D25. They can be seen in the front cockpit.
Aerobatics in the Fleet Finch and Tiger Moth
The flying portion opened with aerobatics performed in the yellow Fleet Finch 16-B and the red De Havilland DH.82 Tiger Moth. A competition was set up to see which aircraft and pilot combination could cut a ribbon of paper tossed out of the cockpit the most number of times.
The early “Pioneer Era” aircraft display started with a replica of the 1910 Hanriot. A very complicated flying machine for the time and simply amazing to see take to the skies. The aircraft took off and obtained a height of approximately 15 feet and landed. Although it performed a limited flight, the airframe is capable of heights of over 1,000 feet!
Curtiss Pusher Model D
Another “Pioneer Era” display was performed in the Curtiss Pusher Model D. This was one of the aircraft I was very interested in seeing perform. Again, like the the Hanriot, a brief flight was demonstrated with a quick landing. This aircraft was originally designed in 1911 and shows the difference between American design theory and that of the European monoplane designs like the Hanriot.
Fokker D. VIII
The World War I era demonstration kicked off with a flight performance in the nimble Fokker D. VIII. This monoplane was developed too late in the war to make a huge impact, but the pilots that did fly it recognized the performance of this aircraft was impressive. It warned the nickname “Flying Razor”. The rotary engine seems to have just two simple settings “Full” and “Idol”. I am positive this is totally inaccurate, but from the ground it sure sounds accurate. This machine wins the award for the neatest sounding beast of the day!
Curtiss JN-4 Jenny
Perhaps no other aircraft is more synonymous with the “barn storming” era than the Jenny. The aircraft allowed fledgling flyers to learn the advanced skills needed to fly the higher performance fighters of the time. After the war, many were sold as surplus. Veteran military pilots, now without a job due to the war ending, purchased them and toured the countryside earing a few dollars thrilling a small audience at each stop. Many of the youngsters that flew and fought in World War II began dreaming of being a pilot after seeing a Jenny fly for the first time nearby their home.
During World War I, the United States was well behind in fighter aircraft design. As a result, our Army Air Force was ill equipped to fight a war. Therefore, the United States purchased and flew designs of the British and French. One such example was the Spad VII, a French design. The Spad was a large improvement over other allied flying machines and was very capable in the hands of the right pilot.
Albatros D. Va
The Albatros may be the second most widely recognizable German aircraft of World War I. Like the Spad above, the design was introduced in 1917 and showed performance increases over other designs of the time. Germany’s Manfred von Richtofen scored many victories in an Albatros.
The Spad and Albatros flew as adversaries once again over the skies of Old Rhinebeck. Here the Spad moves into a firing position behind the Albatros. I took the liberty of adding some noise (grain) to the photo along with desaturating it to make it look more time specific.
The Spirit of St. Louis
Perhaps no aviator in history has been more celebrated and revered than Charles Lindbergh. His celebrity status was instantaneously set in 1927 when he set out to cross the Atlantic Ocean during a non-stop flight from New York to Paris, France.
The weather conditions did not permit the Spirit from flying, but it did taxi around for the crowd. Before and afterwards, the crowd could look it over closely. It is amazing to look back at the elementary equipment onboard and realize that Lindbergh flew for 33 hours in that cockpit non-stop, navigated across a huge body of water and landed safely.
Comedy Routine: Escaped Convict!
While us folks were enjoying the flying machines, a convict escaped and was said to be in the area attempting to flee. Sure enough, somehow he made it to Rhinebeck and attempted to stowaway onboard the Fleet Finch. The police were in hot pursuit but unable to catch him before takeoff. The convict held onto the wing support during takeoff. Thankfully, a local citizen was able to make a crack shot and the convict returned to the ground unescorted. R.I.P.!!
It looks like he
Aerobatics in other general aviation aircraft of the era
The day’s grand finale of the day were performances by several aircraft of the “Golden Age” including the Fleet Finch, Piper Cub, Taylor Cub, De Havilland Tiger Moth, Curtiss Wright CW-1 and Fleet Model 1.
Until Next Time!!
This will not be my only visit to Old Rhinebeck in 2021. I simply wanted publish what I could to share some of the excitement I have for this great place.
I have some special plans in the works and will share more Rhinebeck adventures as they happen!
In the small town of Red Hook, New York lies one of America’s true aviation treasures, the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome. Founded by Cole Palen in 1958, the museum sought to preserve the flying history of the Pioneer (1900 -1913), WWI (1914 – 1918) and the Golden Age of Aviation (1919 – 1940). Mr. Palen ended up creating the first museum of flying antique aircraft in the United States.
What started out as six WWI aircraft has turned into a collection of over 60 aircraft, some originals and some replicas, spanning the years from 1900-1940. In addition to their collection of flying aircraft, the museum has a number of artifacts, static display aircraft, antique automobiles and motorcycles. They are even restoring a WWI era tank.
Each weekend from mid-June through October the Aerodrome comes alive with two distinct airshows. Saturday shows focus on the “History of Flight” while the Sunday shows focus on the WWI era aircraft.
I attended the WWI show on September 15, 2019.
Stepping back in time…
Once you park and cross the street, you enter into the Aerodrome area. You pay for your admission and the fun begins. The Aerodrome is set up like a small airfield in the early days of flight. Hangars of various size are placed around the field. These hangars house the museum’s flying aircraft. Usually the vacant hangars have their aircraft on the field for the day’s flight. The hangars with aircraft inside are usually from the opposite day’s show, but are open for your visual inspection. The restoration area is a fun place to go to have a look. The hanagars also have a theme to them, the early era flight companies like Curtiss, Fokker and Ryan Flying Company for example.
The flying aircraft are usually towed out first and placed on the flight line. After those machines are out, the vintage automobiles and motorcycles are brought out for a little ride around the field. After you get through looking into the hangars, the announcement is made that the show is about to start.
The Show Opens…
The Air Show begins in traditional barnstorming fashion…some fancy stick work resulting in some razzle and dazzle of the aircraft. This time was the De Havilland DH.82 Tiger Moth, an original aircraft and built in 1934.
The aircraft takes off and climbs up a few hundred feet. Then at show center, a roll of toilet paper is thrown overboard. The goal is for the aircraft to cut the paper ribbon numerous times before getting too low to the ground to be safe. This shows just how nimble the aircraft is and the skill set of the pilot.
After the Tiger Moth came down, a second aircraft went up to beat the previous pilot’s TP Banner score. This show, the second aircraft was the 1942 Fleet Finch 16-B, another of the museum’s aircraft that is an original version. Sadly, I did not make note of which aircraft was more successful.
A Brief Glimpse into Aircraft Development: 1910 Hanriot
Although the theme of the Sunday show is WWI, the museum brings out their 1910 Hanriot (a reproduction) to show just how fast the airplane developed in the short span of time.
The aircraft looks fragile and dangerous, and it turns out to be true. Take a close look and you see the infancy of aircraft design and the lack of pilot safety features. The plane taxied by for a close look, then lined up for take off. The plane did indeed get airborne, but only to an altitude of about 10-15 feet. Although capable of higher flight, safety is paramount and simply to show it is indeed capable of flying.
The Fokkers: D.VII and D.VIII
The collection of WWI aircraft come out shortly after the aerobatics. This visit brought out the Fokker D.VII biplane and the improved D.VIII monoplane. Both aircraft came into service with the German Air Force in 1918.
The D.VII came into service in April, 1918 and was vastly underestimated as an adversary due to the square look and thick wings. The aircraft quickly became respected and earned the reputation as a serious fighter aircraft. It turned out to be fast and highly maneuverable, both important attributes in a fighter aircraft. Herman Goring, the head of the German Luftwaffe in WWII, flew the type and claimed many of his victories in the D.7. The aircraft was so respected at the end of WW I that the Armistice Treaty included a provision that all of the remaining D.VII airframes be turned over to the Allies.
The D.VIII monoplane came into service in July, 1918. It was nicknamed the “Flying Razor” by allied pilots. The aircraft had a number of issues early on in development, but eventually became known as an agile aircraft and easy to handle. The type has the place in history as the last type to score an aerial victory in WWI. The D.8 has a truly unique sound due to the rotary engine powering it.
The Sopwith Scout
I was pleasantly surprised to see this aircraft on the flight line when I arrived. The aircraft was still being restored during my previous visits. The official name of the aircraft is listed above, but it is more commonly known as the “Pup”. The type entered service in 1916 and was considered a good airplane to fly, but not an exceptional fighter design. It was outclassed by the larger and more powerful German aircraft.
The SPAD VII
The SPAD VII came into service in late 1916 and early 1917. It was hoped to be the aircraft to end the dominance of the German Albatross over the skies of the battlefront. The type was replacing the nimble and popular Nieuport 11 and Nieuport 16 designs. However, German designs were also rapidly improving. The Spad 7 held the aerial lines and gave the pilots time to develop new tactics with the heavier and more structurally sound airframe. The type was later replaced by the Spad 8 on the front lines. However, the type was well respected and used as a trainer by various countries for many years after the war.
The Fokker Dr.1 and the Black Baron
Likely the most recognized aircraft of WWI is the Fokker Dr. 1 triplane and is synonymous with the German Ace, Manfred Von Richthofen. The type entered service in 1917 and was considerably more maneuverable than existing German designs at the time and was well armed.
Playing the part, the Baron of the Aerodrome is the Black Baron.
The Black Baron challenged Sir Percy to an aerial duel for the right to the hand of the lovely maiden, Trudy Truelove. The Baron chose the Fokker Dr.1 while Sir Percy chose the Sopwith. In the end, Sir Percy prevailed and married his lady.
Take a flight!
Not only do you get to see history while at the Aerodrome, you can also experience history first hand. Prior to the formal air show, and for a short time after, you can purchase a flight aboard the Museum’s 1929 New Standard D-25. The aircraft has seating for up to four passengers and the flight lasts for about 15 minutes.
Around the Aerodrome
The field is full of fun things to look at and enjoy. The day passes quickly, too quickly for my tastes. The day is so action packed that all of sudden the sun is getting low and it is time to go.
If you have never had the chance to experience this fantastic place, you should make a point to visit. The atmosphere is fun and inviting with an equally friendly staff. It is an affordable and entertaining family event. Some times the aircraft lineup changes due to maintenance or other reason. You just never know what exactly will be in the air that day. And that is part of the fun.
I only briefly described the air show and the contents. This time I focused on the aircraft primarily. There is so much more for you to see and do. Come out and see it for yourself!
Next time I plan to see the History of Flight show to change things up. I cannot wait till that day! I will probably enjoy it so much that I may just have to go back the next day!