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Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome:

Old Rhinebeck is located in the Hudson River Valley area of New York state. The area is stunning in terms of physical beauty, and in addition there are many places of interest to visit in the area. You are near West Point, the FDR National Park, as well as the home of Samuel B. Morse. You can spend two days just at Old Rhinebeck. It is a museum of a bygone era, but not the typical museum. The Aerodrome is alive with the sights, sounds, and yes, smells of those long ago days. On Saturdays, the very early planes, that look more like butterflies, and the planes of the Lindbergh era, are flown. Apparently much of the work to finish the replica of Lindbergh’s "Spirit of St. Louis" is done. The major missing component is the engine. It is envisioned that the "Spirit of St. Louis" will be flown in 2002, to commemorate Lindbergh's 75th anniversary of his historic flight across the Atlantic. That would be quite an addition to the Saturday show. On Sundays, you are treated to a WWI reenactment. The main characters are the English folks, Trudy Truelove, and Sir Percy Goodfellow; and the evil Black Baron and his gang of "Bad Boyz"... I can not forget Madame Fifi who owns a much bombed lingerie shop. Every Sunday the Black Baron attempts to abduct Trudy, and Percy tries to protect her honor. Every Sunday good triumphs over evil, and the Black Baron and Germany loses. Mix in a great announcer; see period equipment of all kinds; people dressed in costumes of the day; and you have a recipe for a wonderful experience. I have not even mentioned the aircraft, yet. They are fantastic! To see the little tri- winged plane that the Black and the original Red Baron flew is awesome. Seeing several of the old planes from both sides engaging in mock combat is spell binding. Add in the smell of castor oil; the roar of the engines; the bombs and anti-aircraft shell exploding; all making the three senses work at full tilt, I guarantee your adrenaline will run. I get excited just writing about it! The concept of Old Rhinebeck was started by Cole Palen who carved the grass strip out of the farm country in 1959. Cole is no longer with us , however his dream continues. In addition to the flying planes, there are many other aircraft and parts around in the hangars in various stages of repair to be enjoyed by all. A museum has been built with many of Cole's artifacts, as well as much of the "Spirit of St. Louis". Visit their web site listed at the end of this section, and then plan a trip to Old Rhinebeck. You will thank me for the suggestion.


1914 Avro 504k (English)

The Avro is one of the prettiest planes at the Aerodrome.

  • Photography Suggestions: A zoom lens of 100-300 mm focal length for most aerial photos . A second lens of ~ 28-80mm is good for the people shots and equipment on the ground. Film of 400 ISO is good for most situations, but I have shot Kodachrome 64 with the lens wide open (f 5.6) with good results. I generally use a tripod with the slower speed films. A polarizing filter is sometimes helpful to reduce the glint off the aircraft surfaces on clear sunny days. The use of 400 speed film is made more necessary if the filter is used. Auto-focus is nice but not necessary. These planes fly slowly.


1918 Curtiss JN4H "Jenny"

The vintage aircraft shown above was The United States of America's idea of a fighting aircraft, and was affectionately known as the "Jenny". This aircraft was very inferior to those of England, France, and Germany, in terms of speed and maneuverability. The Jenny's top speed was 75 mph. The Sopwith Camel's top speed was 112mph, and the Fokker DVII topped out at 124 mph. However, it was a great trainer and could land (it was said) in the tops of trees with little or no damage if a crash landing was necessary. It was a very slow plane and mainly used as a trainer. After the war, the Jennies were bought by ex-fighter pilots and used as barnstormers, and for delivery of U.S. Air Mail. The photograph was taken at Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome, Rhinebeck, N.Y. It is a great place to visit and a fantastic place to see vintage aircraft. By the way, that is Trudy flapping in the breeze on the wing of the old Jenny.


Photos by Fred Sgrosso

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Last updated on 6/17/99