The Rhinebeck Aerodrome Museum’s “Spirit of the Aerodrome Gala” is approaching, and there have been several developments concerning the program for the day and evening. May 21, marks the 89th anniversary of Charles Lindbergh’s history-making flight across the Atlantic. The flight forever changed the way mankind viewed air travel as a practical means of transportation, and will be celebrated in a big way at The Rhinebeck Aerodrome. The event will center around the Aerodrome’s recently completed and news-making Spirit of St. Louis. This is an exact copy of Lindbergh’s aircraft, and its public debut flight is scheduled for 5:30pm. Two of Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s grandchildren will be present to witness the flight and will speak at the evening gala. The Spirit aircraft project was twenty years in the making, with ups and downs in between. This event has been anticipated by Aerodrome fans for all of these many years, and will be a historic moment for the Aerodrome itself, as well as a tribute to late Aerodrome founder, Cole Palen. Palen always wanted to have a flying example of this aircraft in his weekend air shows at Rhinebeck.
Daytime events will be open to the public for special event admission. Highlights of the day will include flight demonstrations of the Aerodrome’s fleet of vintage aircraft, and biplane rides in a 1929 New Standard aircraft will also be available. There will be guided tours of the museum and docents will show and discuss some of the Aerodrome’s current restoration efforts. Several vehicles from the Aerodrome collection that had been out of service for a few years are now back in running order and will be seen in operation all day.
Two talks will be given by Dr. Peter Jakab, Chief Curator at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum at 11:30am and 1:30pm. Dr. Jakab designed the exhibit of the Wright Brother’s Wright Flyer at the National Air and Space Museum and authored the book, Visions of a Flying Machine: The Wright Brothers and the Process of Invention. He has had a passion for aviation history for most of his life and attributes this to his visits to the Aerodrome as a youngster. Dr. Jakab will discuss the history of the Spirit, conservation efforts on the original aircraft in Washington D.C., and the significance of Lindbergh’s flight to the world. There will also be a Q&A session at the end of each talk.
The theme of the day will be the roaring ‘twenties, and the Heart Strings Hot Club band will perform live music from the same timeframe from 2:30 to 5:00pm. Visitors are encouraged to don 1920s apparel to help recreate the feel of May 21, 1927…the day Lindbergh landed in Paris following his solo transatlantic flight from Roosevelt Field, in New York. Those in period attire will receive a discounted admission. The Spirit of St. Louis will be accessible to viewers for the better part of the day to photograph, but will be removed from public sight at 2:30pm to prepare for its grand entrance and a 1927 procession down the runway, set to commence shortly after 5:00pm. The flight will start at 5:30 and immediately after landing, pilot/builder Ken Cassens will take questions from the crowd. The aircraft will be moved to the gala location, a large hangar on the far side of the runway. Those with gala tickets will be escorted across the runway to participate in the evening festivities.
New York’s CBS 101.1 radio personality, vintage aviator, and former Aerodrome pilot, Dan Taylor will be the Master of Ceremonies for the gala. Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro will discuss the significance of the Aerodrome’s reproduction project and the importance of this aircraft to New York’s Hudson Valley as a functioning example of an American icon at the event.
Charles Lindbergh’s daughter, Reeve, was originally scheduled to speak, but will be unable to attend. The Aerodrome released the following statement on Thursday, 5/6; “It is with deepest regret that we announce that Reeve Lindbergh will be unable to attend the “Spirit of the Aerodrome” gala and fundraising event on the twenty first of May, 2016. Earlier this week Ms. Lindbergh sent her regrets and warm wishes for a successful fundraising event citing a medical crisis involving her husband Nat. In her stead, Kristina Lindbergh and Lars Lindbergh will appear to share thoughts and reflections regarding their grandfather, Charles, and will discuss what the Spirit meant to him. Reeve looks forward to a possible visit to Old Rhinebeck in the future. We apologize for any inconvenience and ask that you join us in sending Reeve and the entire Lindbergh family our heartfelt prayers and best wishes for Nat’s complete recovery.”
Plans are underway to transport Kristina and Lars to the Aerodrome via a restored 1928 Curtiss Robin so that they may make a grand entrance. The Robin was another famous aircraft of the Golden Age of Aviation, known for having set and broken many endurance records in the late 1920s and early 1930s.Kristina, the eldest daughter of Jon Lindbergh, (and eldest grandchild of Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh), grew up on the west coast but earned English Literature and Fiction Writing degrees from Middlebury and Sarah Lawrence Colleges. After working at several New York publishing houses in the ‘70s and ‘80s, she moved with her husband, Bob Conte, to Westchester County to raise two daughters and work as a ballet teacher and an occasional performer with the Westchester Ballet Company. With her aunt, Reeve Lindbergh Tripp, and uncle, Land Lindbergh, she was one of the editors of Against Wind and Tide, the final volume of Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s diaries and letters, and is now at work on a memoir of Lindbergh family life. She has also served on the boards of the Charles A. and Anne Morrow Lindbergh Foundation, the Westchester Ballet Company and the Yorktown Land Trust.
Kristina’s younger brother Lars Lindbergh has a career in residential design, renovation, restoration, construction management and custom designed homes. He is President of Tinyhouses, Inc. in New York, whose goal is to create small, green, energy-efficient buildings in conjunction with the specific needs of their customers.
Joseph Corn, Senior Lecturer Emeritus of the Department of History at Stanford University, and author of the book, The Winged Gospel: America’s Romance with Aviation, will also speak. He will discuss Lindbergh’s flight within the context of the American public’s relation to aviation in the 1920s and how the public reaction to the flight and Lindbergh persona altered it, and will touch upon the far reaching consequences regarding the country (particularly the Cole Palen generation) embracing aviation in the years the followed.
The acclaimed Georgie Wonders orchestra will provide live musical entertainment throughout the evening playing big band music of the 1920s. Steve Fernandez of Hourglass Entertainment LLC will be arranging special lighting to add to the atmosphere. “Having a background in aviation we are delighted to be partnering with ORA for the Spirit celebration. Without spoiling the surprise, we intend to create a “look” with creative lighting that brings the feeling of a 1927 Spring sky into the event hangar.”
Bruce Kazan of Main Course Catering, LLC is looking forward to the event and provided the following statement; “Main Course catering is delighted to be part of the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome’s “Spirit of the Aerodrome” gala. Our farm-to-table cuisine is renowned in the Valley and we’re glad to add our expertise in event production as well. It’s going to be a really exciting, memorable event – great history, great flying, great food, great celebration!”
Main Course will provide period-themed food and drink for this progressive cocktail reception, including The Lindy, an original “NYP” (New York-Paris) inspired cocktail. There will be a New York Roaring ‘20s Tasting and Springtime in Paris themes, which will include Mini Lobster Rolls, Grilled Gulf Shrimp, Roasted Vegetable Empanadas, Curried Potato & Vegetable Samosa, Chicken Satay on skewer, Blackened Beef tenderloin, Fire roasted asparagus goat cheese tart. Dessert will include dark chocolate Mousse parfait and Tiramisu. Beer and Wine will also be served.
The gala has received generous support and sponsorships from Rampmaster, SWT Aviation Northeast (CubCrafters), The Rhinecliff Hotel, Independent Helicopters, Hudson Valley Federal Credit Union, Trade-a-plane, A Night in Bloom, Floral Fantasies by Sara, Clinton Vineyards, Chandelle Winery, North Country Vintage, Experimental Aircraft Association, Day for Night Productions/Del Conte photography, Kosco, Bill and Charlotte Hammond and others. Additional sponsorships are being sought.
A full schedule of events and details can be found here. The site includes a “buy now” ticket feature. Seating is limited. Proceeds from the Gala will be applied to ongoing aircraft restorations at the Aerodrome. The Rhinebeck Aerodrome Museum is 501(c) 3, non-profit organization, and donations are tax deductible to the full extent of the law.