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On the Wings of a Moth During Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome’s 54th Season

The first heat of summer and the puff of freshly mown grass signal a return to the barn era of aviation here in the middle of the Hudson Valley, as this grass graces the gently rolling terrain that Cole Palen hacked over half a century ago to create the “runway” for his old airfield at Rhinebeck.

As the yellow and white striped canopy was lifted next to its snack stand by half a dozen ground crew volunteers on the morning of June 1 this year, spotless blue, it symbolically promised metal-framed, fabric-covered biplanes warped in time from the early 20th century would follow.

The hangar doors, gaping after their “long winter siesta”, revealed the purpose of this aerial resurrection – the Blériot XI still in flight, the Caudron G.3, the Hanriot and the Curtiss Model D – and the team cut of the pitch. lawn will soon serve as their showcase. Like salmon returning to their origins, they would feel at home here – any hard surface, like concrete or tarmac, considered out of their element.

But, in the meantime, the still unknown rotary engines have been replaced by the enthusiastic teamwork that has brought the airfield back to life.

“We look forward to building our season to a point where the next one will be the most spectacular we have ever had,” said Jose Millares, President and Chief Pilot of the Old Rhinebeck Air Show. “Next year will mark the start of the 100th anniversary of the First World War and, in anticipation of that, this place will be abuzz with cameras and filmmakers this year. It will be a very exciting time.”

But, during this build-up, two new aircraft will perform on the scene at Old Rhinebeck, the first of which is the de Havilland DH.82 Tiger Moth.

“It’s a biplane,” said Bill King, veteran airfield pilot and owner of the plane. “It’s not very fast, but it can make graceful turns and maneuvers.

“It was designed in 1929 as a standard trainer for the Royal Air Force,” he continued. “I think about 14,000 were made and they stopped production in 1945. It was made in England, Canada and Australia. After the pilots were trained on the Tiger Moths in England, they went straight to Hurricanes and Spitfires, which were very sophisticated planes.”

Although not part of the Old Rhinebeck collection, it will nevertheless fill an important gap in the history of early aviation, the story of which is brought to life each weekend at two air shows.

“I had another Tiger Moth with my brother,” Bill said. “I got it in ’68 and we flew it here from ’69 to ’84, when my brother bought me.”

From now on, the two-seater trainer will be piloted by his son, David.

“It can be used for ribbon cutting, balloon bursting and bomb raids,” he said.

Another new interwar design to be introduced this year is the high-wing Aeronca C-3, often nicknamed the “bathtub”. Considered the world’s first light aircraft for private use and single-pilot, it is equipped with a 36 hp twin-cylinder engine and a large wing to provide the necessary lift.

“Talk about an iconic plane,” Jose said. “It’s slow. Really slow, like ‘can’t you go faster than that?’ But it’s a classic depiction of early 1930s aviation and we’re excited to bring it to our airshow patrons – in this case, during our 54th season.”

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