Spirit Of St. Louis Flies Again

  • Dec 14, 2015 6:00am GMT
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On December 5, 2015, The Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome's reproduction of the 'Spirit of St. Louis' flew for the first time. Builder Ken Cassens was at the controls flying five times that week and logging 2.5 hours. Cassens said, “It was uneventful, which is a good thing, and I was happy with the way it performed. I was pleased with the flight characteristics…nothing unexpected, other than it being nose-heavy. It trimmed out really well. A little bit hard to slow it down, because it’s so clean, and a little heavy on the ailerons, but that’s to be expected. No real surprises. It’s gratifying that it flew and I hope it keeps flying successfully. We have a lot more flight testing to do.”

(video and photos below)

Aerodrome founder Cole Palen started the project but passed away in 1993. Three years later Ken continued it, Rhinebeck Aerodrome Museum President Michael DiGiacomio who also helped with the resurrection after a nearly decade-long hiatus said, “Many supporters and visitors donated funds, materials and even their own volunteer labor over the years to see this project completed. This aircraft enhances our collection and we are proud to have it here at Old Rhinebeck.”

Clay Hammond, the Aerodrome’s chief pilot flew the Spirit’s chase plane (a 1928 Curtiss Robin) added, “The culmination of the NYP project means a great deal to all of us at ORA. It was one of Cole Palen’s grandest projects, begun in his mind as a young aircraft builder and completed by Ken and his crew through a maze of trials and tribulations over the last two decades. No project has ever taken longer at ORA, nor probably been more important to those who have participated, from Cole all the way down. Seeing it fly is a wonderful experience in watching history relived, the fundamental cornerstone of the ORA experience.”

The Aerodrome is making plans for the Spirit’s public flight debut to take place on May 21, 2016, the 89th anniversary of Lindbergh’s landing in France. The flight demo will be followed by a 1920s themed fundraising dinner. Guests speakers will include Reeve Lindbergh (author and daughter of Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh) and Dr. Peter Jakab (chief curator of the National Air and Space Museum).

The replica of Lindberg's plane will be a regular performer in the Aerodrome's weekend air shows in Rhinebeck, NY throughout the summer. The Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome is a true “living” museum of antique aviation presenting one of the largest collections of early aeroplanes in the world, as well as automobiles, motorcycles, early engines and memorabilia spanning the period from 1900-1939.

(see more on page 2 photos below the videos)

During their weekend air shows, the Aerodrome turns back the hands of time and relives the early years of aviation (weather permitting). This colorful era is brought back to life amidst the roar of rotary engines and is great entertainment for all ages. The Saturday shows chronicle the history of flight with pioneer, World War I and Lindbergh era aircraft taking to the skies. If the winds are calm you will even see their 1909 Bleriot (the oldest flying aircraft in the United States) take to the air. The Sunday shows feature a World War I dogfight as well as barnstorming aircraft.