While the types of aircraft at the former Rhine Pavilion airfield in Cole Palen have changed over the years due to weekend use, maintenance, renovation and the need to enter and exit the semi-retirement, some They were synonyms for air show and year. This article discusses one from the mid-1990s.
As I passed through the weather portal of the covered bridge, I entered the undulating grass field that remembered the storm on a Sunday in October 1996. Immediately beyond the box office was the Curtiss Model D biplane in a small patch of grass, no away from the Canteen of the Aerodrome and Store of yellow and white stripes.
Faced on the short fence were airplanes representing the pioneer eras of the First World War and the Golden Age under a crystalline blue sky, the first in a series of successive weekends to have offered such an ideal climate, while the surrounding trees were autumn. dyed and burned chestnut, lemon and lime. The original hangar, without walls, indicated by the designation "Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome 1", was on the other side of the field and the first, I learned later, that founder of the Cole Palen airfield, whose philosophy was to "keep the dream alive" by keeping Airplanes Centenarians in heaven, he was the first one he built.
The aromas of the airfield cafeteria, as always, invited me to lunch, which generally consisted of a hamburger full of fried onions, sliced and pickled tomatoes, of the "free fixing" bar and a side of French fries.
The air show of the "First World War" on Sunday, unlike the "History of flight" on Saturday, took place between 1430 and 1600, and the optimal view was from the seats in the middle of the field, facing the wood . stage.
It began, as they both did, with a vintage fashion show, whose voluntary audience was changed to a vintage dress in the red van, cradled on the track, and the atmosphere, setting the stage for the early twentieth century, was enhanced by several of the early twentieth century. vehicles in operation, in this case, a Renault Touring Car 1909, a 1911 Baker Electric, a 1914 Ford Model T, a 1916 Studebaker and a 1929 Franklin.
Although the air show itself featured features, characters and pranks that attracted the public, such as the rocket man, the large bicycle, the Delsey dive, the balloon explosion, a parachute jump, the Black Baron, Trudy Truelove, Madame Fifi and dogfight drills, the stars on the air stage were the planes, which were original fuselages or reproductions with original engines.
From the era of World War I, these included the Avro 504K of Great Britain, the Nieuport 11 of France, the triplane Fokker Dr. 1 and D.VII with their painting scheme of Swabian Seven of Germany, and the Curtiss JN- 4H Hispano-Suiza Jenny with US engine UU. today.
There were also several of the Golden Age era.
The first of them was the Pitcairn Mailwing. The catalyst for the design was the award on January 29, 1927 of Route 19 of the Air Mail Contract (CAM), between New York and Atlanta, to Pitcairn Aviation, which chose to employ a fleet of PA-5 Mailwing aircraft that he Same produced. Based on the configuration of its predecessor PA-4, it incorporated a closed, fireproof, 26 cubic foot front cabin capable of transporting up to 500 pounds of express, but which could maintain a center of gravity that only varied by one inch if It will be left empty.
Powered by a 220 hp Wright J5-9 engine, it sported a 33-foot upper wing and a 30-foot lower wing, whose collective area was 252 square feet, and the plane, with a gross weight of 2,620 pounds and a weight 1.008 pounds useful, could climb to 100 fpm and reach speeds of up to 131 mph in level flight.
Bryn Athyn left his factory six months later, on June 17, he wore his black fuselage and golden wings, which were staggered and the lower part incorporated dihedral.
"Until that time, airmail planes had been like heavy duty and determined mail trucks, strictly utilitarian in appearance, heavy on controls," according to Frank Kingston Smith in "Legacy of Wings: The Harold E. Pitcairn Story "(Jason Aronson, Inc, 1981, p. 109). "On the contrary, the black and gold Pitcairn was a poem overhead, spinning and spinning effortlessly, light and fast at the controls, a twinkling artist, but obviously with the strength to handle turbulent conditions."
Subsequently awarded Route 25 of the Air Mail Contract, between Atlanta and Miami, on November 19, Pitcairn Aviation finally covered the east coast.
With much demand, Mailwing was ordered by other carriers to operate its own mail routes, including Colonial Air Transport from Boston to New York, Texas Air Transport and Clifford Ball.
The example of the old Rhinebeck represented the slightly stretched PA-7. Designed to meet the growing demand for mail transport, this Super Mailwing, which incorporates an important line pilot recommendation, began as the 50th PA-6 in the production line, but introduced a modified front fuselage profile for increase the speed and stability of the flight, a two-foot increase in length to 23.9 feet, a rounded rudder and wing tips, a 240 hp Wright J6-7 engine, a 42 cubic foot mail compartment, a payload of 630 pounds and a gross weight of 3,050 pounds, as opposed to the 2,620 of the PA-5.
Another type of the Golden Age in the air show circuit, although with origins on the other side of the Atlantic, was that of Havilland DH.82 Tiger Moth.
It can trace its roots to the "solution" that Sir Geoffrey de Havilland looked for in the two previous light sport aircraft he designed, but could not provide the performance he conceptualized, including the DH.53 Humming Bird single-seat, low-wing monoplane . of 1923 and the DH.51 biplane from two to three seats two years later.
The latter served as the basis of a double-scale reduced-scale biplane designated as DH.60 Moth with the appropriate 60 hp engine that optimized it for instructional and background flight. Of great success, it was produced by thousands between 1925 and the mid-1930s.
Using a Gipsy engine, whose development took place at the end of the decade, the next DH.71 was a tiny, single-place, low-wing monoplane with a wingspan of all 19 feet, but could reach 19,191 service ceilings feet and speed records of 186.47 mph. However, the most important thing was the fact that it was the first design to bear the name of "Tiger Moth".
Causing a series of iterations and modifications, it culminated in the definitive DH.82 Tiger Moth after its prototype, registered G-ABRC, flew for the first time on October 26, 1931 and the Royal Air Force adopted it as its basic trainer. One hundred thirty-five were built.
An order for 50 of an improved version followed at the end of 1934. Designated DH.82A, it operated with a 130 hp Gipsy Major 1 engine, incorporated two tandem open cabins and featured swept and staggered wings mounted with dihedral. With a gross weight of 1,825 pounds, it could climb to 635 fpm, reach a speed of 104 mph and had a service ceiling of 14,000 feet.
Although the type was handed over to elementary and reserve flight schools operated by civilians, its usefulness was just beginning. With the outbreak of World War II, production was unprecedented. After 1,424 DH.82A were built, the assembly was transferred from Hatfield to Morris Motors, Ltd., in Cowley, Oxford, in 1941, where 3,433 additional aircraft were built, followed by 1,533 in Canada, 132 in New Zealand and 1,095 in Australia.
After the war, the market was saturated with this former military coach.
"From that moment, Tiger Moth was engaged in a wide variety of aerial works," according to AJ Jackson in "The Havilland Tiger Moth" (Profile Publications, 1966, p. 12), "including instructional flight, trailer gliders, paratroopers, or banner trailers around the world, but will be remembered primarily for their pioneering work in establishing agricultural aviation as a new and prosperous industry. "
Two of the Tiger Moths that performed at the Old Rhinebeck weekend air shows were owned by the now deceased Bill King and Mike Maniatis.
Another staple of the mid to late 1990s in the skies of Old Rhinebeck was the Great Lakes sports coach, registered NC304Y.
Built by the Great Lakes Aircraft Corporation of Cleveland, Ohio, in early 1929 to serve as a small double-seat trainer, it was a cloth-covered biplane from a single bay powered by an 85 hp Cirrus II inline engine designated as 2 -T-1, which first flew in prototype form in March.
As a highly maneuverable aircraft, it had the world record for the number of consecutive external loops, a total of 131, in its 2-T-1a appearance.
Due to its popularity, it was re-produced in 1970 and then in 2011, incorporating new construction materials, from fir to Douglas fir and metal, and significantly improved instrumentation and engines.
"The versions of the Great Lakes and the Great Baby Lakes have been built by several companies and individuals since the golden age, which underlines how much these beautiful machines mean for modern generations," according to Mike Vines in "Back to Rhinebeck: Flying Vintage Airplanes "(Airlife Publishing, Ltd ,, 1998, p. 57). "(The) Great lakes 2T-1MS, NC304Y, serial number 191, dating from 1930, began life as a 2-T-1E with an ACE Cirrus Hi-Drive inverted motor in a four-hp 95-hp line. A change to a Menasco Private of 125 hp officially makes it a 2T-1MS model.NC304Y was always a great favorite of the Cole … & # 39; & # 39;
Another basic element of the Golden Age was the Travel Air, whose Model A was produced by the Travel Air Manufacturing Company established in 1925 in Wichita, Kansas.
Designed as an improved successor with a metal frame from the previous wooden Swallow, it featured a fuselage of a steel tube covered in cloth, double cabins open in tandem (although a bench seat in the front could theoretically accommodate two passengers), and stepped , N – Reinforcement beads. However, the characteristic features of the Fokker D. VII fighter of the First World War in Germany, including spoilers and rudders with hanging horns, which served to counteract aerodynamic drag during flight surface deviations, increase rates, increased their performance. aircraft response and provides a lighter pilot control feeling. They also gave the guy his characteristic vertical tail appearance "elephant ear."
Due to its simplicity of construction, reliability, capacity, durability, efficiency and performance, it surpassed all rival types during the 1920s and 1930s, only seriously competed with Waco's own designs, and found numerous applications, from stunt flights to thunderstorms, air races, sports and flying in bushes, and air taxiing. Together with the Stearman Kaydet, it was the most used crop duster.
Also often in the air show skies of Old Rhinebeck was the "Lucky 7" Stampe SV.4B by Gene DeMarco.
Based on the initial SV.4 built by Stampe et Vertongen in Antwerp, Belgium, which flew in 1933, this two-place and highly swept biplane coach was driven, in its SV.4B version, by a Renault 4- of 140 horses of force PO5 engine. Equipped with a 145 hp Havilland Gipsy Major X or Blackburn Cirrus Major X engine, its SV.4B counterpart, with a wingspan of 27.6 feet and an area of 194.4 square feet, had a gross weight of 1,697 pounds. Its maximum speed was 116 mph and its service ceiling was 20,000 feet.
Although its production was modest, representing 35 cells before World War II and 65 after it, its acquisition by Stampe et Renard, along with examples built under license from SV.4C in France and Algeria with Renault 4-Pei 140 hp Power plants produced another 940 produced between 1948 and 1955 to meet the need for a French primary coach.
Another frequent player in the mid-1990s in the air show skies was the Davis D-1W. Following its roots in the V-3, it was produced by Davis Aircraft Corporation, established by Walter C. Davis after he bought and merged Vulcan Aircraft Company and Doyle Aero Company. Acquiring the rights of Vulcan American Moth, he produced a parasol monoplane modified by engineer Dwight Huntington and certified on September 6, 1929.
Although the improved Davis W-1 that appeared two months later, on November 8, offered a promise, the Wall Street Crash of 1929, along with a fire that destroyed the hangar and the company's production facilities, forced him to cease operations
With a fuselage of welded steel tube, covered in fabric, rectangular and a two-arm umbrella wing 30.2 feet high, propped up in the lower fuselage, the Davis D-1W operated with a seven-cylinder, 125-cylinder engine. horsepower, Warren Scarab air-cooled radial engine. Mainly used in private and sports flight locations, it had a maximum weight of 1,461 pounds, speed of 142 mph and a range of 480 miles.
The N532K plane flew regularly in Old Rhinebeck.
"(El) Davis D-1W, dating from 1929, would have originally been equipped with a 110 hp Warner radio, hence the designation" W ", according to Vines (ibid, p. 127)." In fact, it now works with a 125 hp Warner power station. This classic sports plane was conceived by the Vulcan Aircraft Company as the American response to the success of the Havilland & # 39; s Moth biplanes series in England. They were more important when former automaker Walter Davis acquired manufacturing rights, but due to the economic climate of the time, only about sixty of these beautiful monoplanes with umbrellas were built. "
None of the air shows of the First World War of the nineties and even those of the next decade were completed without Stan Segalla, who was called "the flying farmer" and who flew a Canary yellow Piper Cub PA-11 of 1947 registered N4568M.
A World War II veteran who flew in Old Rhinebeck in the summer and taught the art of acrobatic maneuvers on a Decathlon 180 in Venice, Florida, in the winter, he owned about 39 single-engine aircraft, taught more than 10,000 pilots and recorded more than 21,000 hours in more than half a century in the sky.
While the aircraft always occupied the center of the stage at the airfield, it was he, as a person of comic skill, who did so, his act always beginning with an ignorant and "anonymous" disguised staff member chasing after the Piper Cub, which, controlled by Segalla, he turned around and escaped his capture on the ground. The pranks in the air, the maneuvers and the landings of a single wheel and punctualization emphasized the definitive fusion of man and machine, since the airplane became nothing less than an extension of him.
One of the original members of the Cole Palen team that shaped and transformed the vintage aviation experience for rookie spectators, retired in 2008 and got rid of the sullen ties of the earth eight years later at age 91.
"A fixed element at the airfield since its inception," according to a statement by Old Rhinebeck, "Stanley could always be found on Sundays tormenting the crowd, before escaping back into the Piper Cub and surprising the spectators. '' One-Shot-Gatling & # 39; & # 39; was popular during the first heyday of the air show, piloting the Avro 504K in support of Sir Percy in the eternal saga that took place every weekend in the skies over Rhinebeck As a pilot of a pilot, Stan raised everyone around him with his experience and ability to control everything that flew in. He loved to take any participant before and after the shows, often posing as a complete routine in your Puppy. or Decathlon, always a smile on the passenger's face when he brought them back to the flight line. "
While the pioneer aircraft at the former Rhinebeck airfield took center stage at their "History of Flight" air shows on Saturday and their World War I designs did so in their Sunday "First World War" performances, these 1920s and 1930s planes, which often participated in both, could have deserved their own "Golden Age Air Show."
Jackson, Aubrey Joseph. Havilland's tiger moth. Leatherhead, Surrey, England: Profile publications, 1966.
Smith, Frank Kingston. Legacy of Wings: The Harold F. Pitcairn Story. New York: Jason Aronson, Inc., 1981.
Vines, Mike. Return to Rhinebeck. Shrewsbury, England: Airlife Publishing, Ltd., 1998.