Memories of the Old Rainbeck airfield in the mid-nineties

Although aircraft types at Cole Palen airfield in Old Rheinbeck have changed over the years due to weekend use, maintenance, repairs and the need to enter and retire, some have been synonymous with both air shows and flights. This article reviews an article from the mid-1990s.

Passing through the covered bridge portal, I entered the rocking grass and recalled an airfield on October Sunday, 1996. Immediately behind the ticket office was a Curtiss Model D biplane on a small grassy area near the airfield canteen and a striped yellow and white tent.

In a short fence flew planes representing the era of aviation pioneer, World War I and the Golden Age under a crystal blue sky, the first in a series of consecutive weekends to provide such perfect weather, and the surrounding trees were in the fall. shades and torch-chestnut, lemon and lime. The original, wallless hangar, labeled “Old Rheinbeck Airfield 1,” was across the field, and, as I later learned, the first founder of Cole Palen Airfield, whose philosophy was to “keep dreams alive,” keeping even centuries-old planes in the sky. was the first one he built.

The aromas of the airfield canteen, as always, lured me to lunch, which usually consisted of a hamburger littered with fried onions, chopped tomatoes and pickles, a bar of “free fixin” and a side of fried potatoes in French.

The air show on Sunday’s “First World War,” as opposed to Saturday’s “Flight History,” usually took place between 1430 and 1600, and its optimal view was from benches in the middle of the field, opposite the wooden stage.

Began both that and the old-fashioned parade, volunteer spectators disguised in ancient clothing in a red, trimmed walkway, and the atmosphere that created the beginning for the early 1900s was enhanced by several in the early 20th century functioning vehicles. – in this case, a touring car Renault 1909, Baker Electric 1911, Ford Model T 1914, Studebaker 1916 and Franklin 1929.

Although the air show itself had eye-catching traits, characters and antics such as man-rocket, oversized bike, diving in Delsie, burst balloon, skydiving, Black Baron, Trudy Truelove, Madame Fifi and mock fights. , the stars on the air scene were planes that were either original gliders or reproductions with original engines.

Since World War I, these have included the Avro 504K from the UK, the Nieuport 11 from France, the Fokker Dr.1 and D.VII triplanes with seven Swabian paint schemes from Germany and the Curtiss JN-4H Hispano-Suiza Jenny with an engine today from the US.

There were also a few from the Golden Age.

The first of these was Pitcairn Mailing. The catalyst for the project was the award on January 29 of contract airmail (CAM) route 19 between New York and Atlanta by Pitcairn Aviation, which selected as employees a fleet of PA-5 Mailwing aircraft, which produced itself. Based on the configuration of the predecessor PA-4, it included a closed, fireproof 26-cubic-foot front cabin capable of carrying up to 500 pounds of express, but could support a center of gravity that changed only an inch when left empty.

Powered by a 220hp Wright J5-9 engine, it had a 33-foot upper and 30-foot lower wing with a total area of ​​252 square feet, and the aircraft – 2620 pounds gross and 1008 pounds of payload, could climb at a speed of 100 mph and reach speeds of up to 131 mph with a smooth flight.

Six months later, on June 17, he was taken out of his factory in Brin Athens, in a black fuselage and golden wings, which were in a checkerboard pattern, and the lower part included a dihedral.

“So far, air mail planes have been like mail trucks, heavy and purposeful, strictly utilitarian in appearance, difficult to control,” Frank Kingston Smith said in “The Legacy of Wings: The Story of Harold E. Pitcairn” (Jason Aronson, Inc., 1981). , pp. 109). “On the contrary, the black-and-gold Pitcairn was a poem at altitude, spinning and spinning in flight effortlessly, with easy and fast control, a shimmering performer, but obviously with the strength to cope with turbulent conditions.”

After that, on November 19, Route 25 Airlines between Atlanta and Miami, Pitcairn Airlines covered the east coast.

Much in demand, Mailwing was ordered by other carriers to operate their own postal routes, including “Colonial Air Transport” from Boston to New York, “Texas Air Transport” and “Clifford Ball”.

The example of old Rainbeck was a slightly stretched PA-7. Built to meet the ever-increasing demand for mail, this Super Mailwing, including significant pilot line recommendations, began in the 50th PA-6 on the production line, but introduced a modified direct fuselage profile to increase flight speed and stability. an increase in leg 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 3050 pounds. to 2620 PA-5.

Another type of Golden Age in air shows, albeit originating across the Atlantic, was de Haviland DH.82 Tiger Mole.

It may have its roots in the “solution” that Sir Jeffrey de Haviland aspired to the two previous light sports aircraft he designed, but which failed to provide the performance he conceived, including the single-wing low-wing monoplane DH.53 Humming Bird 1923 year and a two-triple biplane DH.51 two years later.

The latter formed the basis of the reduced two-seater biplane, which received the DH.60 Moth, properly propelled by a 60-hp engine that optimized it for training and flight flights. Very successful, it was produced by the thousands between 1925 and the mid-1930s.

Using a Gipsy engine developed at the end of the decade, the next DH.71 was a diminutive single-wing low-wing monoplane with a span of 19 feet, but it could reach service limits of 1,951 feet and record speed of 186.47 mph. However, the most important thing was that it was the first design to be called the “Tiger Mole.”

Causing a series of repetitions and modifications, he reached the final version of DH.82 Tiger Moth after his prototype, registered by the G-ABRC, first took off on October 26, 1931, and the Royal Air Force accepted him as head coach. One hundred and thirty-five were built.

An order for a 50 improved version followed in late 1934. Designed as a DH.82A, it was powered by a 130-hp Gipsy Major 1 engine, included two tandem open cabins, and housed armed, chess-mounted wings mounted on a dihedral. With 1,825 pounds of gross weight, it could climb at 635 rpm, reach speeds of 104 mph and have a service ceiling of 14,000 feet.

Although this type was delivered to primary and backup civil aviation schools, the usefulness was just beginning. With the outbreak of World War II production was unprecedented. After the construction of the 1424 DH.82A assembly was transferred from Hatfield to Morris Motors, Ltd., in Cowley, Oxford, in 1941, where an additional 3,433 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.

“Since then, the tiger moth has been engaged in a variety of air work,” according to A. Jackson in “Tiger moth de Haviland” (Profile Publications, 1966, p. 12), “including training flights, towing a glider, falling parachutists, or towing banners on all over the world, but it will be remembered mainly by pioneering work to create agricultural aviation as a new and prosperous industry. ”

Two of the “Tiger Moths,” who performed at an air show over the weekend in Old Rainbeck, were owned by the late Bill King and Mike Manyatis.

Another major product in the Old Rheinbeck sky was the mid-late 1990s – Great Lakes sports coach, registered NC304Y.

Built by Great Lakes Aircraft Corporation in Cleveland, Ohio, in early 1929, it served as a small two-seater simulator, it was a single-sided fabric-covered biplane powered by a built-in 85 hp Cirrus II engine. 2-T-1, which first took off as a prototype in March.

As an aircraft with high maneuverability, it held the world record for the number of external loops in a row – only 131 – in its appearance 2-T-1A.

Because of its popularity, it was remanufactured in 1970 and then in 2011, including new building materials – from spruce to Douglas fir to metal, and greatly improved appliances and engines.

“Versions of the Great Lakes and Children’s Great Lakes have been created by various companies and individuals since the golden age, which is based on the values ​​of these beautiful machines for modern generations,” said Mike Wines in “Return to the Rainbow: Flying Vintage Planes” (Airlife Publishing , Ltd ,, 1998, p.57). “(The) Great Lakes 2T-1MS, NC304Y, serial number 191, beginning in 1930, began life as a 2-T-1E with a four-cylinder built-in inverted ACE Cirrus Hi-Drive engine producing 95 hp Menasco Private 125 hp. s. officially makes it a 2T-1MS model. NC304Y has always been Cole’s big favorite … “

Another major product of the Golden Age was Travel Air, a model manufactured by the Travel Air Manufacturing Company, founded in 1925 in Wichita, Kansas.

Designed as an advanced successor to the previous wooden frame in a metal frame, it had a cloth-covered steel fuselage, double tandem open cabins (although the front bench could theoretically accommodate two passengers) and, swinging, N -closed wings. However, increasing its performance, there were the characteristics of the World War I fighter Fokker D.VII, including overhanging, balanced ailerons and rudders, which served to counteract aerodynamic drag during the deflections of the flight surface, increase the response speed of the aircraft and provide easier piloting control . They also gave the type the characteristic of a vertical tail the appearance of an “elephant’s ear.”

Due to its simplicity of design, reliability, capabilities, durability, efficiency and performance, it surpassed all competing types in the 1920s and 1930s, only seriously competing with Waco’s own designs, and found many applications – from stunts to assault and air racing. , sport and bush flights, and air taxiing. Along with Stearman Kaydet it was the most widely used vacuum cleaner.

Also often on the sky of the Old Rainbeck air show was Gin Demarck’s “Lucky 7” Stampe SV.4B.

Based on the original SV.4, built by Stampe et Vertongen in Antwerp, Belgium, which flew in 1933, this two-seater, heavily-spanned winged biplane simulator in the SV.4B version was powered by a Renault 4 with 140 hp. Engine PO5. Complete with de Havilland Gipsy Major X or Blackburn Cirrus Major X engine with 145 hp. its analogue SV.4B with a wingspan and an area of ​​194.4 square feet possessed 1697 pounds gross. Its top speed was 116 miles per hour and its service ceiling was 20,000 feet.

Although its production was modest, it included 35 plans before World War II and 65 after it, the acquisition by Stampe et Renard, as well as SV.4C models built under license in France and Algeria with a 140 hp Renault 4-Pei. s. power plants, leaving another 940 were produced between 1948 and 1955 to meet the need for a French primary simulator.

Another frequent player in the sky air show was Davis D-1W. With roots in the V-3, it was manufactured by Davis Airlines, created by Walter K. Davis after it acquired and merged Vulcan Airlines and Doyle Aero Company. Acquiring the rights to the American volcanic moth, he produced a monoplane umbrella, modified by engineer Dwight Huntington and certified on September 6, 1929.

Although the improved Davis W-1, which appeared two months later, on November 8, made a promise, the collapse of Wall Street in 1929 along with a fire that destroyed the company’s hangar and production facilities forced it to shut down.

Thanks to a rectangular welded steel fuselage with a covered fabric and a single stand to the lower fuselage with an umbrella wing with two 30.2-foot-tall side members, the Davis D-1W was powered by a seven-cylinder 125-horsepower air-cooled radial Warren Scarab engine. Mainly operated on private and sports airfields, it had a maximum weight of 1,461 pounds, a speed of 142 mph and a range of 480 miles.

The N532K aircraft flew regularly in the Old Rheinbeck.

“(The) Davis D-1W, beginning in 1929, would have been originally equipped with a Warner radius of 110 hp, hence the designation” W “,” according to Vines (ibid., P. 127). “In fact, it is now powered by a 125-horsepower Warner propulsion system. This classic sports aircraft was conceived by Vulcan Aircraft Company as the American answer to the success of the Moth de Havilland biplane series in England. They became more important when former carmaker Walter Davis acquired the rights for production, but because of the economic climate of the time only about sixty fine monoplanes with umbrella wings were built. “

None of the airships of World War I in the 1990s and even the following decade were without Stan Segala, who was dubbed the “flying farmer” and who flew the 1946 PA-11 on the Canadian Yellow Canadian Piper Cub, registered N4568M.

A World War II veteran who flew in the Old Rheinbeck in the summer and winter taught the art of aerobatics at the Decathlon in Venice, Florida, he owned 39 single-engine aircraft, trained more than 10,000 pilots and logged in for more than 21,000 hours in more than half a century in the sky.

While airplanes have always been central to the airfield, it was he, as a man of comedic skill, who did everything that always began with an inexperienced, “anonymous” employee disguised in pursuit of Baby Piper, who, controlled by Segala, circled and escaped. capture on the ground. Jumps in the air, maneuvers and landings on one wheel and clear accentuation emphasized the final merger of man and machine, as the aircraft became nothing more than its expansion.

One of Cole Pellen’s original team members, who shaped and changed the vintage aviation experience for novice spectators, he retired in 2008 and eight years later ruined the land at the age of 91.

“Adaptation at the airfield from the beginning,” Old Rainbeck said in a statement, “Stanley could always be found on Sundays, killing him in the crowd before he had time to leave the baby Piper again and impress the audience.” Shot-Gatling “was popular in the early era of air shows, driving an Avro 504K in support of Sir Percy in the eternal saga that played out every weekend in the skies over Rainbeck. Pilot Stan raised everyone around he loved to ride before and after the show to any participant, often spending full mode in its Cube and Decathlon, always smiling at the passenger’s face. returned them to the flight line. “

While the pioneering planes of Old Rheinbeck Airfield took center stage on Saturday’s airplane of Flight History and its First World War designs in Sunday’s First World War, these 1920s and 1930s planes, which often participated in both, could have earned their own “Golden Age Air Show”.

Sources of articles:

Jackson, Aubrey Joseph. Tiger Mole de Haviland. Leatherhead, Surrey, England: publications in profile, 1966.

Smith, Frank Kingston. The Legacy of the Wings: The Story of Harold F. Pitcairn. New York: Jason Aronson, Inc., 1981.

Lazy, Mike. Return to Rainbeck. Shrewsbury, England: Airlife Publishing, Ltd., 1998.

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