There are fewavgeektreats quite as rare and wonderful as the chance to get up close and personal with restored, operational aircraft from the very earliest days of thehistory of manned flight, the early 20th century. That’s why a “living museum” inNew York State’s Hudson Valley, extending fromNew York Citynorth to the state capital Albany, has to count as one ofaviation geekdom’s holiest nirvanas.
I grew up 20 minutes away from theOld Rhinebeck Aerodrome, located on a rural back road in my home townRed Hook, NY (about two hours’ drive north of NYC), and visiting here was one of the highlights of my summers growing up (it’s open mid-June to mid-October, this year Oct. 23, with the last air show on Oct. 9).
Founded in 1960 by localaviation geeksCole PalenandRichard King, this former farm is home to an airstrip and various hangars displaying some 60 mint-condition biplanes, triplanes, monoplanes, and other aircraft, as well as tanks and other contraptions of the period from 1900 to 1939 (there’s also a pretty coolmodel-airplane museum). What’s more, if you go on a weekend (and I highly recommend you do), you’ll be treated to the sight of these wonderful old flying machines in action, as two-hour shows focus on theWorld War I, the history of flight, and more (love the one calledMeet the Fokkers, lol).
Wait, it gets even cooler. On a first-come/first-served basis, you can book a ride over the Hudson River in one of these biplanes ($75 per person for each 15 minute ride; just get there by 10 am when the booth opens on weekends, or reserve ahead for a weekday ride). Planes take up to four passengers at a time, and there is truly nothing like cruising along hundreds of feet over the lush, green valley landscape with the proverbial wind in your hair, just like those daring young men in their flying machines used to do.
Oh, and please do ask the pilot dip your wings over River Road and say hi to my dad!