L2F Aug 15 pic USA NY Rhinebeck Aerodrome

There are few avgeek treats quite as rare and wonderful as the chance to get up close and personal with restored, operational aircraft from the very earliest days of the history of manned flight, the early 20th century. That’s why a “living museum” in New York State’s Hudson Valley, extending from New York City north to the state capital Albany, has to count as one of aviation geekdom’s holiest nirvanas. 

USA New York Rhinebeck Aerodrome Red Hook

I grew up 20 minutes away from the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome, located on a rural back road in my home town Red 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).

USA New York Hudson Valluy Rhinebeck Aerodrome Red Hook vintage planes
Founded in 1960 by local aviation geeks Cole Palen and Richard 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 cool model-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 the World War I, the history of flight, and more (love the one called Meet the Fokkers, lol).

USA New York Rhinebeck Aerodrome Red Hook vintage biplane

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.

USA New York Rhinebeck Aerodrome Red Hook Curtiss Model D Pusher vintage airplanes

Oh, and please do ask the pilot dip your wings over River Road and say hi to my dad! :)

photos: Old Rhinebeck

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