featured story

What We Found In Rhinebeck

by Lynne Belluscio

When I was planning our recent bus trip to Hyde Park, Terry Headley suggested that we stop at the Rhinebeck Aerodrome.  I had never been there, and I was interested in seeing the WACO 10 in their collection. It is probably the only surviving plane from the Donald Woodward Airport in LeRoy. (I wrote about the plane in the May 2, 2010, Pennysaver).

Several years ago, when Nancy Durante Holderman published her uncle Russ Holderman’s memoirs, “Between Kittyhawk and the

 Moon,* “ she mentioned that she had been to Rhinebeck to see if they would carry her book, and was dismayed to find her uncle’s plane stuck in the back of a dusty hangar. The display board didn’t even mention her uncle, a true pioneer in aviation.

Brian Duddy, in his book about the Woodward Airport, compiled a list of the planes from the Woodward Airport. There were four WACO 10s. The WACO 10 that is Rhinebeck was registered as NC940. This was the plane that Russell Holderman flew in an air show in Perry in the fall of 1929. It was no ordinary plane.

He had sent the engine to Kirkham, the Curtiss Company’s engineering genius. “If any man knew how to soup up a motor, give it extra ginger, more power and consequently greater speed, he was the man. “Here is Russ’s account of what happened: ”Ken Hebner came to me before the Perry race and said, “You’ve had good luck with that motor all winter and summer, but I think you’d better let me take it down and check it over thoroughly before you race with it again.”  I told him he was probably right but that I only wanted one more race and then he could do what he wanted about overhauling the thing.

... The race required five laps in all and at the third lap, I felt Bennett gaining perceptibly, so I pushed the motor until was nearly wide open. ... my souped up OX5 turned up 2,400 RPM’s, 1,200 more than it was designed for.  I knew it was too much, but I wanted to beat Dick Bennett. We were only about 50 feet off the ground and I began to gain, and nose ahead of him. Then suddenly I felt as if the whole world had exploded in my face.  There had been no warning other than the 2,400 RPM’s turned up by my motor. That should have been enough. The whole front of the plane flew in all directions.  A wave of oil from the outside and inside, dashing dirt and muck and hot grease, was flung in my face and covered me completely, coating my goggles.  READ MORE

Top of Page