Meeting of 4/21/16: ‘The Spirit of St. Louis’

Screen shot 2015-05-22 at 12.44.07 PMMeeting at Quigley’s Restaurant
593 Columbia Turnpike
East Greenbush, NY
April 21, 2016

Members Attending (14): Terry Brewer, Debbie Rodriguez, Murray Forth, Pat Bailey, Jim Leyhane, Bill Dowd, Debbie Brown, Peter Brown, Ray Hannan, Charlie Foote, Roberto Martinez, Dick Drumm, Stewart Wagner, Carol Orvis.

Guests (15): Assistant District Governor Bob Van Alstine; 7 Rotarians from the Lansingburgh club, 2 from the Kinderhook Tri-Village club, and 1 from the Albany club;  speakers Michael DiGiacomio and Clay Hammond; Sharon Wheeler, and Jennifer Kilinski.

PROGRAM: “The Spirit of St. Louis”

Michael DiGiacomio and Clay Hammond
Speakers Michael DiGiacomio (left) and Clay Hammond.

Charlie Foote introduced Michael DiGiacomio and Clay Hammond from the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome. Mike is president of the board of trustees, and Clay is a pilot at the “living museum” located in Dutchess County. Mike did most of the talking, while Clay “flew” the computer presentation.

Cole Palen

The aerodrome, which contains numerous historic renovated or replicated aircraft as well as vintage cars and clothing, formally opened to the public in 1960 with six planes. It was the creation of James Henry “Cole” Palen Jr. (1925-1993), an avid enthusiast of all things aviation. Mike noted that Palen had little money, putting virtually everything he had into planes and parts as well as traveling around the country to exhibit his planes.

There has been some plane-swapping over the years in conjunction with the Smithsonian Institution, which has been a strong supporter of the aerodrome. One of Palen’s original aircraft now hangs in the Smithsonian.

The speakers showed numerous photos of aircraft and pieces of aircraft that have come to Old Rhinebeck over the years, and talked about the many volunteers who have put in countless hours restoring the planes and vintage cars.

Lindbergh and the original 'Spirit.'
Lindbergh and the original ‘Spirit.’

The latest completed project is a replica of early aviator Charles Lindbergh’s famous plane, the Spirit of St. Louis, that will make its public debut as part of a day-long celebration on May 21. Lindbergh (1902-1974) flew the original solo from New York to Paris on May 20-21, 1927, the first-ever such flight.

Ken Cassens, director of aircraft maintenance at the aerodrome, led the years-long effort to create the replica that includes three rare instruments donated by the National Air & Space Museum. He will be piloting the plane during its debut.

In addition to work on planes and vehicles, aerodrome staffers and volunteers have been busy building a new gift shop and toilet facilities after a fire consumed the original building last year, destroying all the merchandise as well as most of a collection of rubber-band-drive model planes built by Cole Palen.

The aerodrome museum is open from May through October. The facility offers a variety of activities, including simulated dogfights with World War I-era planes on weekends. Full details are available on its website.

One of the aircraft in the aerodrome's collection.
One of the aircraft in the aerodrome’s collection.


FULL HOUSE -- Lots of visitors at Thursday's dinner meeting.
FULL HOUSE — Lots of members and visitors at Thursday’s dinner meeting to hear the early-aviation presentation.

WELCOME — President Terry Brewer welcomed a group of visitors from the Lansingburgh Rotary Club, as well as from the Kinderhook Tri-Village Rotary Club, and Assistant District Governor Bob Van Alstine. (Later, a member of the Albany club arrived.)

SRC Breakfast Club LogoBREAKFAST CLUB — Terry reported that 11 members attended that morning’s monthly breakfast meeting at the Greenbush YMCA. (Minutes of the event are on the following post.) The next breakfast meeting will be on May 19, the third Thursday of the month.

3 FUNDRAISERS — The Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome, the subject of the evening’s program, has donated a gift certificate for a bi-plane sightseeing ride at the facility. We are offering raffle tickets for that prize at $5 each. Tickets will be sold through Saturday’s social mixer (5 to 7:30 p.m. at Roberto Martinez’s residence), and the drawing will be held at that time. • Terry and Murray Forth are working on plans for a nine-hole outdoor golf tournament in June to raise funds for the club treasury. Details to come. • More than $200 was raised at last Saturday’s “Rotary Home Cooking” dinner hosted by Bill and April Dowd.

Screen shot 2016-04-22 at 11.14.10 AMPURE WATER — Terry reported that he attended Tuesday’s Albany Rotary Club lunch at which speakers from the Colonie-Guilderland club made a presentation on Rotary’s effort to provide clean water for schools in developing nations. He said he is working to bring the speakers to our club for a similar presentation that could be a prelude to a financial effort in support of  Pure Water for the World Inc.‘s initiative in Haiti. Jim Leyhane suggested we adopt a school in Haiti and ask the District to challenge other clubs to do likewise to reach the organization’s goal of aiding 10 schools at $1,400 each. Terry said he would table the suggestion pending a presentation, after which we can discuss it in detail.


NEW ASSISTANT DISTRICT GOVERNOR — Visitor Bob Van Alstine noted that he is nearing the end of three years as our assistant district governor, expressed his appreciation for members’ support, and announced that Jack Faddegon will succeed him on July 1. Jack and wife Nancy, owners of Faddegon’s Nursery in Latham, recently gave our club a presentation on the latest news concerning the ShelterBox program, for which they serve as district coordinators. Bob also urged members to attend the annual District 7190 Conference, this year scheduled for May 13-15 in Lake Placid. Much of the schedule is filled with hands-on public service projects, a  mystery dinner-theater, and awards.

SCHOLARSHIPS — We are finalizing details of our high school scholarship awards for the year. The effort will be expanded to include three separate $1,000 scholarships — one each at Columbia, Maple Hill, and Rensselaer. Recipients will be required to attend a meeting.

Clothing ThanksCLOTHES FOR KIDS — Project coordinator Bill Dowd reported that he has received about 60 pieces of new clothing for kids served by the Circles of Mercy family support organization. He said he is shooting for several hundred, and asked members to bring contributions to the Saturday mixer, or to either of the next two Thursday meetings. The drive will end May 5, and all clothing will be delivered to Circles of Mercy on Saturday, May 7, which is the date for this year’s Rotary “Day of Service.”

NEXT MEETING: 6:15 p.m. Thursday, April 28, at Quigley’s when Dr. Mike Flesher will discuss organic nutrition.


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