RHINEBECK, N.Y. -- The Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome Museum has completed the most authentic reproduction of Charles Lindbergh’s famed "Spirit of St. Louis" built to date, and its first test flight was successfully made recently by Ken Cassens of Stone Ridge, Aerodrome pilot and aircraft restorer/builder, .
Cassens said of the flight, “It was uneventful, which is a good thing, and I was happy with the way it performed. I was pleased with the flight characteristics…nothing unexpected, other than it being nose-heavy. It trimmed out really well. A little bit hard to slow it down, because it’s so clean, and a little heavy on the ailerons, but that’s to be expected. No real surprises. It’s gratifying that it flew and I hope it keeps flying successfully. We have a lot more flight testing to do.”
The Aerodrome’s project was started by Cole Palen soon after he obtained a Wright J-5 engine in the 1970s. Progress was halted for various reasons over time, and Palen passed away in 1993 without seeing his vision become a reality. Cassens took over the project for the Aerodrome in 1996 with aid from the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum. The Smithsonian provided excellent support for the Aerodrome’s project, allowing Cassens to examine the aircraft up close (in a cherry picker) to gather vital information, and also by contributing photos and instruments identical to those used by Lindbergh, which are installed in the Aerodrome’s aircraft.
Rhinebeck Aerodrome Museum President Michael Dimiacomio helped with the resurrection: “Many supporters and visitors donated funds, materials, and even their own volunteer labor over the years to see this project completed. This aircraft enhances our collection of antique aircraft and vehicles, and we are so proud to have it here at Old Rhinebeck.”
Plans are under way for the Spirit’s public flight debut to take place on May 21; the 89th anniversary of Lindbergh’s landing in France after making the first non-stop flight from New York to Paris.
The flight demo will be followed by a Spirit of St. Louis gala event, a 1920s-themed fundraising dinner.
Call Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome at (845)-752-3200.
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