Founder of Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome

December 29, 1925  -  December 7, 1993

Photo By Earl Hall

Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome was privately owned by Cole until his death.  At that time, according to his will, two non-profit educational corporations were created, the Rhinebeck Aerodrome Museum and Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome Air Shows.  So, what does that spell for us?  It means that Cole's work will be preserved indefinitely for you and me.  But, just what was his work?

In 1951 Cole purchased six old disassembled airplanes from a hanger at Roosevelt Field on Long Island, New York.  He spent his entire savings to acquire them.  After moving them to his parents farm in Poughkeepsie, New York, he began restoring them one at a time.  The first one he flew was a SPAD XIII.  Although he had a pilots license, he had to teach himself to fly it.  It was far different in handling than his 40 hp. Piper Cub. 

After a few years of struggling to restore his planes and acquire others Cole bought an old farm, which is where Old Rhinebeck Museum is located today.  Part of the farm was turned into a grass airstrip.  It wasn't long before people would stop to see what he was doing.  They came to see his beautiful planes and hear them run.  Soon, Cole was demonstrating their flying capabilities.  And more people came and this continued every year. 

Cole Palen loved his planes and the joy of flying and performing.  He wanted to share this with people and did so for many years.  Knowing that no one lives forever, he made provisions to guarantee his work would live on after him.

Authors Note:
I wish that I had known Mr. Palen personally.  What I have written above is only a capsule about him.  What has been told about him by his wife, friends and associates indicates that he was a very dynamic person with the tenacity of a bulldog about preserving early aviation history.  With the same vigor which many early aviation pioneers pushed the development of flight, Cole restored and preserved it.  I highly recommend Mike Vines book, "Return To Rhinebeck."  It can be obtained through the Museum's store.  You will find a link on my Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome home page leading to the "Official"Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome web site.
Sandy Rhodes 



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Most recent update 03.03.2004