Late Thursday afternoon, August 20, 2015 at approximately 4:50pm, a fire broke out in the Field Gift Shop and Model Museum on the property of Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome (ORA). The building was fully engulfed and completely destroyed. An Aerodrome employee noticed the presence of smoke and after investigating quickly called 911 to report the fire. Multiple local fire departments responded, but the fire progressed too rapidly to save any part of the structure or the items and valuables inside. No persons were injured in the fire.
A temporary gift shop is being assembled immediately so that merchandise sales may continue for the rest of our airshow season. It will remain conveniently located on the airfield, the specific location to be determined. In addition our museum store, located in our History of Flight building, remains open seven days a week as always.
The museum remains open for visitors seven days a week through October 25, 2015. Airshows will continue as scheduled every weekend this season through Sunday, October 11th, 2015.
Included in the loss is all of the gift shop merchandise; all of Cole Palen’s stick and tissue models in the model museum; fuselage fabric from Cole’s original SPAD 13 world war one fighter, as well as a piece of original SPAD fabric from the 95th Aero Squadron; computers, POS terminals, and credit card readers; and vintage showcases, desks and drawer units from the gift shop. Much of it is replaceable, a great deal is priceless and a huge loss. ORA is committed to rebuilding the structure and making it better, but the need for support and fundraising is greater than ever now. The Aerodrome’s founder, Cole Palen, was no doubt one of the greatest optimists this earth has ever seen. His reply to adversity was one of “No problem!” and “We just have to keep moving straight ahead.” We adhere daily to this mantra and his principles of keeping the “old planes in the air” and presenting them in a traditional setting. The gift shop, constructed originally in the early 1970’s, was a cornerstone of the Aerodrome experience. The Aerodrome looks forward to starting construction of the new and improved structure as soon as feasible, to include improved retail space as well as a new bathroom facility that has been in planning stages for several years now. Fundraising efforts will be redoubled with renewed focus on finishing our capital campaign begun in earnest in 2013. We will plan on beginning construction as soon as the airshow season ends and we can move in with construction equipment. The Aerodrome is a 501c3 non-profit foundation and your donation is tax deductible. Please visit our website for more information on contributing, or contact us directly via email or phone. Information is included at the bottom of this release.
The Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome wishes to thank all of the staff and museum volunteers who faithfully and without delay rallied to assist with initial response and to secure the museum collection from further damage . The Aerodrome would like to specifically thank museum employee Mark Mondello for his prompt recognition of the fire and his efforts to save aircraft and automobiles parked in hangars adjacent to the fire. After calling 911, he, along with a helpful jogger passing by, pulled to safety our original 1909 Bleriot monoplane, two other vintage reproductions, as well as our original Ford Model T, Baker Electric, and Renault Taxi automobiles. To the anonymous jogger on Norton Road we wish to say an immense thank you to you also! Fire Department companies who responded include Red Hook, Rhinebeck, Milan, Tivoli, Hillside, and West Clinton.
Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome wishes to thank these all-volunteer firefighters for their quick, decisive and professional response which no doubt limited damage to just the immediate structure with no spreading of the fire to adjacent structures.
The Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome Facebook group page includes additional information about the Aerodrome, its history, and current events. Join the group to keep in touch with the latest at Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome. www.facebook.com/groups/oldrhinebeckaerodrome.
The museum features more than 60 antique airplanes, more than 40 vintage vehicles and other related artifacts, dating from 1900 through 1940, the Pioneer, World War I and Golden Age aviation periods. Biplane rides are available during the airshow season. Shows and rides are weather permitting.
Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome and the Rhinebeck Aerodrome Museum is a 501(c) 3, non-profit organization. Memberships are available and donations are appreciated.