Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome is saddened to report that longtime Aerodrome pilot Bill Gordon, 56, passed away late Friday, May 27th 2016. He was flying a vintage 1942 P-47 Thunderbolt WWII fighter when he was forced to ditch in the Hudson River. Bill was predeceased by his wife Susan who was also a volunteer at the Aerodrome. Bill served as the Aerodrome’s Chief Pilot, Chief Mechanic and later as our resident Aerobatic Competency Evaluator. He had flown nearly every aircraft in the collection including the Albatros, D.VII, DR-I Triplane, Camel, Great Lakes, Fleet, AVRO 504K and Caudron G3 to name a few. He also served as our primary rides pilot for several years and backup rides pilot more recently. Bill restored many of the aircraft in the collection including the Fokker D.VII, Stampe, New Standard D-25 and Camel.
Bill was a superb pilot with numerous ratings who was totally enamored with flying and loved each and every new challenge. Aerobatics was one of his many strengths. He would often fly rides in the New Standard starting at 10 am, until showtime, then fly four to six airshow acts and fly more biplane rides until dark. He loved any animal he set his eyes on, was kind and generous, and immensely patriotic. I remember him returning from lunch one time with a hamburger he bought “to go”, all for my dog Oreo who was at the Aerodrome shop with me that day.
Early on he and Bill Segalla of the Iron Eagles would bring their Christian Eagle biplanes to the Aerodrome and land there to say hi to Cole. This was no small feat in itself considering the bumpy and relatively short runway at Old Rhinebeck. Aircraft owners and wingwalkers all over the country knew Bill’s abilities and would call on him to fly their aircraft because of the immense trust and respect they had for him. Bill over the years has generously donated many aerobatic performances in his 450hp Super Stearman for our RC Jamboree weekends, Wounded Warrior weekends and Veterans weekends. He was an unforgettable person, amazing aviator and mentor to many of our young pilots and mechanics. He will be missed by many.
The Aerodrome wishes to extend its sincerest condolences to the family of Bill Gordon. His children, siblings, mother and loved ones are all in our thoughts during this difficult time.
Blue Skies and Tailwinds Bill……