The Model Airplane Museum, located next to the gift shop on the field, is a one-of-a-kind attraction as far as we know, which is keeping with the genre of the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome. The scale models are all models of aircraft from the same period in time as the full-scale aircraft flown at the Aerodrome.
Cole Palen, like many, began his interest in aviation at a very young age. And that meant building model airplanes. Our Model Airplane Museum is chocked full of aircraft Cole built not as a boy, but in later years between constructing the full size machines.
After a hectic air show and the “full size” aircraft were all tucked away in their hangars. It would be quite common to see him again out on the grass runway; not as the “Evil Black Baron,” but enjoying a summer evening flying free flight rubber models of the frailest nature. This was part of Cole’s special charm that we all admired so much.
Cole was a member of the “Mid Hudson Modelmasters” model airplane club, which at one time used to have its meetings at a firehouse in Poughkeepsie. Due to the needs of the firefighters, the model club had to find a new place to meet. Cole suggested that the club meet at the Aerodrome gift shop, and that arrangement worked out very well.
After the field gift shop was constructed, a small addition was fastened to its south side. This new room was for the collection of period clothes that the Aerodrome’s guests donned for the pre-airshow fashion show. The room was a combination dressing room and storage room.
When a vintage caboose was later acquired for this purpose, this little room was no longer needed. However, Cole’s wife Rita suggested that the empty room would be a fine place for his collection of rubber powered, scale model airplanes because she would be glad to get them out of the house!
Cole took an old parachute and fastened it to the ceiling where it not only simulated clouds, but also allowed the airplanes to easily be hung for display with a piece of thread and a bent pin. He also asked the club to act as the docent for the museum so that there would be knowledgeable people on hand during airshow days to look after things and to answer questions. Cole’s concerns about the Model Museum were satisfied. The Model Airplane Museum is now being staffed by members of the Mid Hudson Modelmasters model airplane club, and until his passing in May 2015, operated under the direction of Aerodrome “old-timer” Bill Poythress.
The Modelmasters have donated a quantity of simple model kits which have been given away to youngsters who have expressed an interest in learning how to build and fly model airplanes. Those who have the time are encouraged to build one of the series of models that Bill designed especially for newcomers in the hobby. Building boards and most materials are at hand in the Model Museum. Plans for these models are there and can be had just for the asking.
We have airplane models on display which vary in size from one with a 2 inch wingspan which is powered by garbage can flies to one with a 3-foot span which is powered by miniature internal combustion engines. All of the models which are not in the showcases have been flown. In fact, some of them have won major prizes in various competitions. A majority of the models are powered by twisted rubber strands and weigh very little.
Our aim is to display airplane models of the same period as the full-sized ones out on the flight line. We also have a collection of non-flying models which have been authentically colored as the aircraft of World War I. Please stop in before or after the airshow and enjoy some time with the small-scale treasures in our collection.