Cole Palen (The Black Baron) @ Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome

Cole Palen: The man behind the magic that occurs at Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome every weekend in the Summer. These photographs of this remarkable man are a snapshot back to a time when Cole was everywhere, and  seemed to be doing everything. On this particular day, we watched Cole come over the field in his magnificent red Fokker triplane, and noticed that his prop was dead. At first we thought it was part of the act, but quickly realized that this was no act. The field crew grabbed the tail of the little plane to keep it from nosing over, (without the prop wash over the wing, the plane was unstable) and the plane was safely brought to a stop. One member of the flight crew came back with a part of the engine in his hand--one cylinder! My wife and I took pictures of the incident and have these portraits of Cole as he explained that the plane would be up and running the next weekend! That was the way it was at Rhinebeck. You never knew what was going to happen. Whenever I see the old triplane on display,(it is no longer flown) I look for the rivets where the cylinder ripped through the cowling-- right in front of Coles face!!  The old photos of Cole shown below are some of our most treasured images.

 

Things look ok during take off. The original is an Ektachrome 200 slide.

 

 


 


This photo was taken as Cole was making a pass over the field. As he approached the North end of the runway, the Dr.1 lost the cylinder, the prop froze, and the cowling had a hole in it where the cylinder popped out. If you look carefully, you can see where the cowling is torn, near the 12 o'clock position. It appears to me that the crankshaft has dropped, making the prop lower in the cowling. The Dr.1 was almost on the ground in this shot. The original was an Ektachrome 200 slide.

 

 


Cole 1                                                                                                                       

Photo by Fred Sgrosso

Cole Palen making a point!




Cole2Cole3 Photos by Pat Sgrosso



Some notes about these three images of Cole: The photos above were taken on  a Sunday in October of 1977. The top photo is a Kodachrome 35mm original slide converted to black and white. The bottom photos are scanned from 8x10 prints we made from 35mm Tri-X. These images were scanned using an Epson Perfection 636 scanner.

 
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This page was created on March 6th, 1999, and updated last on 11/09/99.