Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Four day weekend!

Lots of pictures in this one, so you can skip the words if you want. All photos by Spike (my dad).

I took Friday off and drove to Massachusetts to hang with my dad. I spent Friday with a mountain bike ride and then a fun time hanging out with my two-year-old niece. She's very vocal with a strangely large vocabulary.

Our main purpose was to visit the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome about 125 miles west in NY state and we left on Saturday Morning. The drive was okay, being mostly highway; as we were just driving and not motorcycling, we opted against a weekend with a longer, more scenic drive on back roads.

I can't really do the ORA justice. It's a perfect mixture of the cool and the cheesy. It's part museum, part airshow and part performance art. They have hangers full of planes and fly many of them. They also stage funny skits such as a 'convict', complete with striped suit, is chased by Keystone Kops to the end of the runway where he (or a dummy in the same suit) hitches a ride on a waiting plane. However, he falls off on take off plummeting to the ground. When the Kops arrive, and park near the body, it turns out he's okay and still struggling to escape. He's carted away, crying that he'll be back. The best part of the skits is that they are performed by high school and college age kids all of whom seemed to be having an absolute blast running around in period costume driving 80-year-old cars and trucks.

Anyway, we arrived early and spent a lot of time looking at the displayed aircfraft and wandering the museum hangers. This place has been around for nearly fifty years and they have more aircraft and cars than they can afford to refurbish. But, what they have is astounding. Not just the famous aircraft, but every kind of aircraft. Trainers, warplanes, civil, and mail planes. All from before WW2.

I'll just start with the highlight of the show, the Bleriot XI. This plane is only one of two original aircraft still in flyable condition. Just look at it and imagine flying this across 350 miles of ocean across the English Channel:

Did I mention that it's still flyable? A few feet of height and a few dozen meters of distance man not seem like much, but this is an original aircraft that was built in 1909!

Also on hand was a replica built in 1975 from original plans. It looks like something that Steampunk Batman would fly:

It also flew, but only to the height that the Bleriot did. But just look at how exposed the pilot is! How much would you want to fly a 90-year old design with only wing warping for control and a 30 hp engine for power?

Also on display (and flying Sundays) was an Albatros D.III. A warplane that looks as good as a piece of fine furniture.

The museum hangers held many wonderful things including a home-made ice boat thing made from a horse-drawn sleigh and an aircraft engine:

and, hanging from the curved ceiling/walls, over a dozen huge (at least five feet tall) paintings that were dated from 1969. There were very well done, but some were getting a bit eaten (see the left bottom):

and, in one glass case with some models, was the most awesome pulp magazine cover EVER.

A man-faced tiger leaping from one aircraft to another? How could that not be awesome. I wish I could read it.

We left six hours later, happy but hungry. Had to avoid trying to find a restaurant in the nearby town due to an immanent parade and drive for another hour before we found a place that was not sketch (the one we found was remarkably good, with a big menu of good food that was very well presented for a middle-of-nowwhere family restaurant).

Then at home, my dad and I drank Guinnes and watched Flesh for Frankenstein a singularly bad/good film that truly must be seen be believed. If Sam Rami didn't see this film as a youth, I'd be surprised.

A long, nice drive home on Sunday. Brought Sweet Enemy some sweet corn and some pizza.

Monday, not much of anything. Hung out. Read in the sun. Went trail running shoe shopping, scored some old Matchbox cars from a free box in downtown Burlington then hit the bookstore to grab sweet enemy her own copies of her new favorite series.


That is all!

Arkonbey out


Don Snabulus said...

That was quite an adventure. Out here in Comicville, our aircraft tastes are limited to WWII or later, so seeing the earlier stuff was a real blast.

That Swallows and Amazons thing might be the type of literature that catches on here in Snabbyland.


Arjan said...

that sounds like one awesome museum. I don't think they got any museum like that overhere. There are a bunch of aircraft musea, but not with sketches and old airplanes flying.
It sure does take some guts to fly those 100 year old planes!

They do have some shows every year overhere where they fly a B25 and I think I saw a spitfire fly and a b29, but not much older planes than that.

Arkonbey said...

@Snab: Try Swallows and Amazons. Perfect summer reading! I started it this last weekend (at the lake, no less!)and it's really fun.

@arjan: I would actually expect that there'd be much more old aircraft flying in Europe, given that the early 20th century Europeans were even more electrified by the Wright Brothers' invention than the US was.