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Cole Palen's Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome

Group on Flickr to remember Cole Palen and his Aerodrome; plus all the pilots, mechanics & ground crew who put their hearts into what Cole Palen envisioned. Cole's aerodrome became a reality; - a true " living museum in the sky". All photos of the " Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome" are welcome.


Cole Palen & His Fokker DR I Triplane

Cole Palen reaching into the original 110 hp Le Rhône rotary engine on his first Fokker Dr. I triplane replica that he built and completed in 1967. Cole flew it for approximately twenty years carrying its US civil aviation number (N3221). This aircraft can be seen on " static display" in the museum at Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome.

Only 320 original Fokker Dr. I were built in World War I . There are no known original Fokker Dr. I triplanes left in existence. Manfred von Richthofen's serial 152/17 Fokker Dr. I was destroyed in Berlin by an Allied bombing raid during World War II.

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Cole Palen's Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome  - View this group's most interesting photos on Flickriver

The group icon is a photograph that I took of the Sopwith 5F.1 Dolphin.

Sopwith 5F.1 Dolphin at Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome

I found this very interesting -
Reference - AIR Enthusiast Thirteen - August 1980

Replica of the Sopwith 5F.1 Dolphin at the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome. There are no known surviving examples of the 1,532 Sopwith 5F.1 Dolphin fighters produced during World War I. This aircraft was built by Cole Palen & Andy Keefe from a complete set of drawings from Hawker Siddeley. The original Dolphin had a 27 gallon fuel tank, for operational use, Cole Palen used a 5 gallon fuel tank for low altitude air shows. Cole states, " If at a later date, I need to be ultra pure, I can go back and put in the 27-gallon tank, which will have all the mountings needed to accommodate it".

On his first flight , Palen noted that the Sopwith Dolphin was different from his other fighters beyond the obvious distinctions of the non - rotary engine powering it. The slight rearward stagger of the top wing, which is closer to the fuselage than on many other biplane fighters of the period, places the pilot's head close to and alongside the leading edge of the top wing. Unlike Palen's " Hisso "- powered SPAD S. XIII, (On display at the U.S. Air Force Museum ) in which the pilot sat with his feet nearly straight out to reach the rudder bar, Palen's Dolphin replica provides a more normal seat that gives the pilot a different perspective.

From that perspective, he says," You can probably see the ground 50 ft ( 15 m) in front of you. It's a tremendous view, but very unusual because in most other airplanes you would have to be in a dive to have the same view. Normally, in level flight you look across the cowling and the end of it is just below the horizon; in the Dolphin, however, the nose appears to be way below -- perhaps 30 degrees below -- the horizon. It's almost as if you were going head first through the air, ahead of the airplane! "

" This view offers tremendous visibility, but if you're not careful you can get into trouble when you make a landing in the Dolphin. In other World War I biplanes your nose would be slightly down from the horizon when you are coming in for a landing but if you put the Dolphin's nose in the same position at that point, you will stall because, in reality, your nose will be up too far. There's a tremendous angle of attack and that puts you in a very dangerous position; going to slow with the nose up in the air. It takes a lot of concentration to remember to keep the nose down and, although many instructors will tell you to never look at the airspeed and to land by " feel ", in this case you'd better look at the airspeed; your senses just aren't going to be correct until you've got a fair bit of experience in the Dolphin."

This aircraft has been painted in the colours and markings of the Dolphin flown in 1918 by Major Cecil Montgomery - Moore of No 19 Squadron RAF with the exception of the serial number N47166 which is the US civil registration.

The Federal Aviation Administration certified this aircraft in the summer of 1977.


From Wikipedia -edited slightly-
Cole Palen's Biography
Cole Palen (December 28, 1925 – December 8, 1993) was the founder & curator of the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome, a "living" museum of vintage aircraft from 1900-1937 located in ( Dutchess County) Red Hook, New York. Cole's Aerodrome boasts one of the finest collections of antique aircraft in the world, including an original Blériot XI (civil registration N60094) with its original serial plate # 56.

bleriot serial

This original 1909 Blériot XI serial # 56 is the oldest flying airplane in the United States

This 1909 Blériot XI US registration number (N60094) s/n 56, powered by a 35 HP Anzani "Y" type three cylinder engine that still flies at The Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome in Red Hook, NY. It is the oldest flying aircraft in the United States.
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Cole Palen had a strict philosophy regarding his aircraft; he believed that a plane was not truly a plane unless it could fly. By putting this philosophy into action, Cole made the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome one of the few places in the world where the public could see aircraft from the dawn of aviation actually fly. Cole made both his original and replica aircraft as authentic as possible. Original drawings were used for restoration and replica construction, as well as the installation of original parts and engines into the machines so they would look, sound, and fly the same way they did for the daredevils of early aviation and World War I . You could even smell the Castor oil which was used & still used in the aircraft that are powered by rotary engines.

Cole and his Aerodrome became the focus of countless newspaper and magazine articles, ( National Geographics, Life, True, Popular Mechanics just to mention a few), documentaries, web sites, and books. - See below.

Cole Palen (James Henry Cole Palen Jr.) grew up in Red Oaks Mills New York, just South of the town of Poughkeepsie. As a child he developed an early fascination in aviation and delighted in building model airplanes. In later life he was recognized for his work in the preservation of early aviation history.

After graduating from high school in 1944, Cole joined the United States Army just in time for the Battle of the Bulge. On returning to the U.S. he entered the Roosevelt Aviation School at Roosevelt Field, Long Island to train as a mechanic. Here he was thrilled to find that one of the hangars (hanger 68) contained nine World War I aircraft. He dreamed of one day owning his own unique airfield and flying the early aircraft as he felt they should be flown.

In 1951 Roosevelt Field closed and plans were laid for a vast shopping center to be built on the site. Accordingly the World War I aircraft were put up for sale. The Smithsonian had already acquired three of the aircraft so Cole quickly bid for the remainder. Cole also made a separate bid on the Sopwith 7F.1 Snipe just incase his bid on the other aircraft fell through . Soon thereafter he found himself the proud owner of a SPAD XIII, Avro 504K, Curtiss JN-4C Canuck, Standard J-l, Aeromarine 39B and Sopwith 7F.1 Snipe. He was given just thirty days to remove the aircraft from Roosevelt Field, which required nine 200-mile round trips to his family home in Red Oaks Mills where they were stored in abandoned chicken coops.

In 1959 Cole found a farm for sale in Red Hook New York, just north of Rhinebeck. This property included a small farmhouse in which an unsolved murder had taken place.

Around this time Cole earned money through the rental of some of his aircraft to a film company in California that was filming the World War I movie, Lafayette Escadrille starring Tab Hunter. Between savings from his employment at Texaco as a mechanic and earnings from the film deal he was able to purchase the property by paying the back taxes that were owed on it. He cleared a runway and built makeshift hangars from scrapped materials with his bare hands and the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome was born.

Palen collected aircraft spanning from the period of the birth of aviation up to the start of World War II he restored them and flew them regularly, and where early original aircraft did not exist, accurate replicas powered by authentic engines were built. A sizable collection of veteran and vintage vehicles was also collected, nearly all in working order.

In 1960 Palen opened the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome to the public, the first known American example of a living museum dedicated to preserving pre-World War II aviation history and technology. The first air show took place in 1960 to an assembled audience of approximately 25 people. Gradually word spread and shows were held regularly on the last Sunday of the summer months. As demand grew this was changed to a show every Saturday and Sunday from mid-May through mid-October. The shows now are from mid June through October.

In April 1965, Cole Palen flew his 1912 Thomas Pusher 100 miles from Red Hook to New York City and after a three day trip, he appeared on the television game show I've Got A Secret.

On March 17, 1967 Palen married Rita Weidner. Rita took over management of the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome and brought some order to the administrative side of things.

Cole was associated with several movies, most notably in 1983, when he had a brief fling with stardom, working as a stunt double for Woody Allen in the film Zelig.


Early in 1993 Cole suffered a stroke. Looking to the future he decided to form the Rhinebeck Aerodrome Museum Foundation. The Foundation came into being during the course of the year under a Board of Directors and a special new foundation building was erected opposite the Pioneer, WWI and Lindbergh era buildings.

Following the end of the 1993 season, Cole and Rita made their annual pilgrimage to their winter home in Delray Beach Florida; where Cole also maintained a workshop. Early that December Rita also suffered a slight stroke and was admitted to the hospital. It was at this time that Cole died in his sleep. Rita made an excellent recovery from her stroke and continued with her husband's legacy until her death on August 12, 2002.

In 1995 the Experimental Aircraft Association recognized Cole Palen for his work by posthumously naming him to the EAA's Vintage Aircraft Association Hall of Fame.

Only one out the six original World War I aircraft that Cole acquired and restored is in airworthy condition. The Curtiss JN-4C Canuck is still flying and is privately owned by Ed “Skeeter”Carlson, Spokane, Washington.

Aeromarine 39B In the late 1960's was photographed for a cigarette ad. In the Winter, they transported the Aeromarine South. A passing vehicle tossed out a lit cigarette which ignited & destroyed the aircraft. The aircraft was kept in Cole's house at he aerodrome but in 1983 his house was burned down to the ground. The remains are still at Old Rhinebeck and hopefully one day it can be restored.

Other World War I aircraft that Cole aquired can be seen in several museums.

SPAD XIII C.1 can be seen at the U.S. Air Force Museum, Dayton, Ohio.
Avro 504K can be seen at the Canada Aviation Museum, Ottawa, Canada.
Standard J-1 San Diego Aerospace Museum, Balboa Park, San Diego, CA
Sopwith 7F.1 Snipe can be seen at the National Air & Space Museum, Washington, D.C.

Nieuport 28 can be seen at Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum - Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center.





Several books have been written about " Cole Palen's Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome".

An excellent biography of Cole and the Aerodrome was written by E. Gordon Bainbridge, published in 1977 "The Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome, The story of Cole Palen and his 'living' aviation museum" (ISBN 0-682-48883-6)
GB
© 1977 E. Gordon Bainbridge

Another excellent book written by aerodrome pilot Richard A. King , "The Skies over Rhinebeck: A Pilot's Story".
sor
© 1997 The Rhinebeck Aviators Guild

Cole Palen's FLYING CIRCUS , a 1 hour documentary about the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome, its collection of unique planes and the cast of remarkable characters that surround its founder, Cole Palen. Rare material of pioneer planes in flight, WWI aircraft in air to air combat, and stunts from the barnstorming era.
com/1274/4677444627_d2f2148ccd_m.jpg
© Aquilon Film Inc

I highly recommend the above two books & video!!

Other books that have been written are
" Return To Rhinebeck " , Flying Vintage Aeroplanes by Mike Vines.

return to rhinebeck
© 1998 Mike Vines

" Winds In The Wires ", A Golden Era of Flight 1909-1939 by Mike Vines,
The photos in this book were taken at the three major historic collections. Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome - Red Hook, New York, The Salis collection in France and the Shuttleworth collection in the UK.

windsinthe wire photo
© 1995 Mike Vines

Flying Coffins- The First World War in the Air features stunning color and air-to-air film of the WWI vintage replicas at Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome including the Sopwith Camel, Nieuport 11, Fokker Dr. I Triplane and Albatros D.Va.


flying coffins
© Discovery Wings

Flying Coffins Part 1

Flying Coffins Part 2

Flying Coffins Part 3

Flying Coffins Part 4

Flying Coffins Part 5

Flying Coffins Part 6

GREAT AIRCRAFT COLLECTIONS OF THE WORLD." by Bob Ogden.

Ogden
© Multimedia Publications (UK) Ltd 1986

This book lists many of the worlds aircraft collection including " Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome". The inside cover front and back has a photograph of " Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome's Sopwith 5F.1 Dolphin, flown by Pilot Richard A. King. The book has a much larger photo of the postcard that was once sold in the giftshop. This photograph was taken by Henry C Reichert - 1982


Postcard of Cole Palen's Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome

YouTube Old Rhinebeck Circa 1969


Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome web site


Cole Palen's Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome

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