There was also the threat of flying into one of
several full-size buildings made from plywood that
set the stage for the full-scale air show that capped
the day’s excitement. On some weekends, there
would have been as many as 500 RC sorties flown.
As with all good things, however, the heat of
the Jamboree competition began to cool and the
emphasis slowly became one of the largest fun-fly
events in the area. With this change, the quality and
craftsmanship of the models began to improve, as
did their sizes. Although the majority of the model
airplanes that show up today for the RC Jamboree
are considered Giant Scale, the event still welcomes
all sizes and types of vintage aircraft.
RC aircraft in the Jamboree must be Scale models
of airplanes built and flown before 1939. Vintage-looking Ugly Stiks, Elders, Antics, etc., are ineligible.
Aircraft and prototypes of airplanes used in World
War II combat situations (not only used for training
purposes) also are ineligible.
Minor changes to the models to enhance flight
performance and safety (such as adding ailerons to a
model of an airplane that was controlled with wing
warping) are allowed, but the general shape, finish,
color, and markings of the prototype aircraft must be
In full costume and makeup, Cole Palen assumes his alter ego, the evil Black Baron of Rhinebeck. Everyone loved to hate this character for decades.
A Dream of Early Flight
Another good reason to attend the annual
Rhinebeck RC Jamboree is the wonderful collection
of aircraft in the museum. A short walk up the hill by
the parking lot brings you to a number of old hangars,
all built by Cole, that house his amazing collection of
antique and vintage aircraft.
Cole’s dream of early flight began when he
purchased six WW I airplanes from Roosevelt Field
in 1951. The first WW I-era airplane he restored
was a French Spad XIII, which he worked on in his
father’s barn. He began flying it in 1956. His Spad
XIII now resides in the National Museum of the
United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio.
Cole purchased an old farm in 1958 with the
idea of converting the property into a small airport.
With his passion and commitment to building
and restoring old airplanes, the Old Rhinebeck
Aerodrome was born. By 1959, Cole had a short, but
rough, runway that enabled him to fly his airplanes.
Other aviation enthusiasts began to hear about his
operation. The weekend air shows began in 1960,
and in the early years, the crew putting on each show
was often larger than the audience watching.
In the mid-1960s he restored his Curtiss Jenny in
the living room of his Rhinebeck home. After several
rebuilds, it is still flying as one of the show airplanes
that performs every weekend.
After the 1993 season, Cole and his wife, Rita,
traveled to their winter home in Florida where he
also had a workshop. At the end of the year, Rita
became ill and was hospitalized. It was during this
AUGUST 2013 www.ModelAviation.com