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Old- fashioned fun at Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome

Red Hook, New York

A two-hour drive from downtown Manhattan provided an entertaining glimpse into aviation’s golden age.

The 1929 New Standard D-25 (pictured here in 2012) has been giving rides at Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome for years, now $100 for a 15-minute, open-cockpit flight. Photo by Jim Moore.

As a teenager, I spent much of my free time restoring vintage airplanes in exchange for flight time at the Peach State Aerodrome in Williamson, Georgia. It was there that I discovered a certain pride for the old airplanes I helped to restore, maintain, and fly—a 1917 Curtiss JN–4 Jenny being one of them.

Sadly, in November of 2016, my flight instructor Ron Alexander and a passenger died in an accident in the 99-year-old Jenny.

After the accident, my peers and I began to learn of the origins of the Jenny—how it came to be, the individuals that played a role in the restoration, and other airports around the country that were working to preserve aviation history, just as my instructor was.

One of the airports was the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome in Red Hook, New York.

Six years, a private pilot certificate, college degree, and husband later, I finally found an excuse to visit.

My husband, a corporate pilot, had a four-day layover in Teterboro, New Jersey, scheduled over Labor Day weekend, so I decided to take a day off work and catch a Delta Air Lines flight to meet him to explore New York City and visit the old aerodrome.

After two days of exploring Manhattan, we had had enough of the hustle and bustle, and decided to hop in the car for a two-hour drive north to Old Rhinebeck.

Shortly after leaving the confines of the New York City area, we were immediately astounded by the beauty of New York state. The leaves were changing, the hills were sloping, and views of the Hudson Valley caught us by surprise.

After two hours of winding our way through several small towns, we made it to Old Rhinebeck.

A short walk from the parking area to the main entrance catapulted us into what felt like a step back in time. Staff were dressed in period clothing, antique airplanes sat in just-as-old or older hangars, and the sounds of a New Standard hopping rides reminded me of what I think the barnstorming days must have sounded like.

It wasn’t long after we secured our seats that the show began with the national anthem, a parade of vintage vehicles, and a Boeing Stearman and a Great Lakes taking turns cutting a roll of toilet paper in the air.

Admittedly, at this point, the show hadn’t hooked me. These acts were nothing new after spending years on a vintage-themed airport. However, only a few minutes later, I found myself on the edge of my seat, straining to see what would happen next.

Without giving too much away, the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome’s airshow combines aviation history with hilarious, old-fashioned storytelling. Unlike the airshows of today, the show not only focused on the capabilities and history of their aircraft, but also had an incredibly unique way of making me feel like I was watching a film unfold scene by scene.

The show is an event for all ages and interest levels, regardless of one’s particular interest in aviation history or aviation in general. In today’s day and age, it was refreshing to sit back, relax, and listen to laughter flood the air in a genuine, fun-filled aviation environment.

The airshow is held each Saturday and Sunday June through October (weather permitting) and in my book is an absolute “must-see” for all aviation enthusiasts.

Cayla McLeod

Cayla McLeod Hunt

Social Media Marketer
Social Media Marketer Cayla McLeod Hunt is a private pilot with a love for tailwheel and backcountry aircraft. When she isn't writing stories, she enjoys flying with friends and introducing others to general aviation.
Topics: Travel, U.S. Travel

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