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Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome Threads related to the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome

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Old 4 December 2003, 06:45 AM   #101 (permalink)
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In 1986, I found myself between jobs and a bit of cash in my pocket, so I decided to head up to Rhinebeck to see the Jamboree. This was my first visit there, something I had wanted to do ever since I was a kid. Anyone remember the National Geographic article from 1970 or so about the Aerodrome? That was the catalyst for my love affair with this place. So, I bought a train ticket from Tampa FL to Rhinecliff NY and absolutely had a ball up there. I got to meet Cole and told him where I was from, and he said how glad I made the trip just to see the planes and models. Man, I felt ten feet tall after that...he truly had that quality to make you feel welcome, friend or stranger.

If some of that quality were to exist in the current board, then these major problems wouldn't exist. Joe Gertler was right, Cole ran the place for years and managed just fine, thanks to the volunteers and other unsung-heroes that helped keep it alive. With so much hostility from the volunteer pool towards the ruling party now, how can it survive? Some clear-thinking must be done on the part of the Board now before it's too late.
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Old 4 December 2003, 08:12 AM   #102 (permalink)
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Hello Folks,
Like many of you, I am also a former Aerodrome weekend employee / volunteer and airshow pilot.
I knew Cole & Rita very well, and beyond the airshows, I flew my Cub year round (literally spring, summer, winter and fall)
giving countless rides to Aerodrome employees and associates as well as complete strangers. And in my opinion,
the biggest thing missing at the Aerodrome is exactly that......people tinkering with and flying their aircraft during the
weekdays and in the off-season in order to build a genuine foundation of interest in antique aviation.

I wholeheartedly agree that Aerodrome is at risk and fully support any efforts to reorganize / restructure
the organization. In fact, I consider myself one of the first to leave the Aerodrome (in protest or disgust)
because of all the nonsense going on......way back in 1996! A year after I left, there was a 'forced' departure
of a key person, followed a year later by another key departure, and so on. The situation today started
longer ago than some people might realize.

Remember the infamous 'sugar' incident? This incident occurred near the end of a long season during which there were
very strong leadership challenges between certain individuals. It involved tampering with aerodrome aircraft, ultimately
resulting in an airshow being cancelled minutes before showtime, and the whole incident was surrounded by the engine
quitting on the Nieuport 11 during a show, resulting in a forced landing in the trees. I always thought tampering with aircraft
was a serious federal crime, and although tampering was clearly evident, the FBI and state police investigations lead to no
conclusion (that I was ever aware of) and the whole incident was hush-hushed and slowly vanished away. And once again,
consider the one person who was at the epicenter of the 'sugar' incident controversy.

Now to my main points....in reading through the forum, I see alot of nostaglia, good memories and emotions. What
I don't see are facts or strong, incriminating evidence of wrong-doing. Without facts, there is no case. I certainly
hope that the key people driving this challenge are intentionally withholding some serious allegations that they
can not make public at this time. It's good to rally and rile the troops, but there needs to be a battle
or war to fight to take advantage of the enthusiasm and momentum.

I'm also a little confused as to what the strategy of this challenge to aerodrome really is.....what is the goal
of this effort? Is it to make enough noise and hope that the board members decide to step-down? I doubt
that will happen. Is it to drive a state investigation in hopes of criminally indicting people or forcing organizational
or bylaw changes? It needs to be clearly defined.

Any organization or company is rife with personal politics. That's human nature, and to some degree, it does
provide a level of checks and balances. However, bad decisions are not illegal. Bad judgement is not illegal.
Being stupid is not illegal. Immorality is not illegal. Just because we don't like what's going on at the aerodrome, or
it isn't like it used to be, that doesn't mean it's illegal or necessarily mean that it's wrong either. The whole stolen cub
situation, that was a private matter not involving the aerodrome. Yes, the aerodrome board went on to show very poor
judgement (repeatedly), but that's not illegal.

My overriding concern is that if this effort fades out, or if the state decides to not get involved, or if a state investigation
only turns up minor infractions, it will only serve to validate the current board members, who will then come out of this
stronger than ever and we will have lost the aerodrome as we knew it (if we already haven't). So there needs to be some
teeth to this challenge, and I haven't seen any yet. Can anyone tell me, are there any teeth to this?

Thanks.

P.S. Andrew - can you comment about reported 2nd stolen or mis-directed clipped-wing Cub incident, this time apparently
involving the aerodrome? While I've heard about the incident and even a grand jury investigation, I don't know much about
it and it seems like everything else, the incident has once again faded from the radar screen (which might imply that the case
was dismissed, I don't know).
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Old 4 December 2003, 09:04 AM   #103 (permalink)
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N2911C, good to hear from you. Missed having you around. I had a lot of fun in that cub. All very good points. I would like to hear more about that Clipped Wing Cub too. Though I'm not in the loop enough to know about any illegal stuff, I do think that not telling other pilots and aircraft owners about the recent tamperings could be border line. I would think that if something had happened as a result of these tamperings without informing the pilot about them, they could be charged with some sort of neglect. But I'm no expert, and nothing to my knowledge happened.
However I do think that if enough members objected to the way things were going and were to drop their support unless things were changed. It might put enough pressure on the board to make those changes. If not the state may not like the board alienating the members that way. And without the support of the members, the aerodrome would be in serious financial trouble.
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Old 4 December 2003, 09:27 AM   #104 (permalink)
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One more thing....

What the board doesn't seem to understand, and what Cole knew all too well, is that the Aerodrome runs on two things; money and fun. The place has never had much money, and the board has managed to suck the fun out of the place, so the volunteers have left.
One thing that has always bothered me, is that very few board members have spent any time helping out at the shows. How can you run a place when you haven't the slightest clue on what is involved in putting on an airshow. The only board members that helped out on a regular basis, were Carl, and Pete. Yet the board constantly micro-managed the place. I think that a requirement for board members should be that they volunteer 8 hrs a weekend working at the airshows. You can't manage what you don't understand. And you can't know the dedication of the people working for you unless you work along side them. If the board had done this a relationship of trust would have been built between the board and the staff, and the Aerodrome wouldn't be in this mess now.
The other thing that has bothered me is that Stan Segalla is an Airshow Board member, however the ORA pays him as a contractor to put on his flying farmer routine. Isn't that a conflict of interest? How can a board member be a paid employee?
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Old 4 December 2003, 09:48 AM   #105 (permalink)
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N2911C Hits the nail on the head. WHAT does anybody intend to do about this? Most but not all boards are put in place by a membership. If the membership is stasfied with the boards performance they get voted in at the next election. If the members are disatisfied they get voted out. I don't see how it is possible for a non-prifit org not to have officers and board members that answer to no one? The state is NOT going to interfered because you don't like the direction or the progress. Accusations of misappropriation of funds, wrongful termination etc on the scale you are talking about are minor enough to draw a warning (without any state interference) at most.
the only way ORA can be saved AND PROSPER is to get a person to direct it with authority and with the competence to make it financially secure. This is NOT difficult if the person knows what he is doing. There HAVE been people who ran a few hundred bucks worth of aero collection into millions in assets without going into debt OR going to great risk. Cole was ONE of them..With the assets at ORA and the unique opportunities for financial success and stability I've wondered at the ongoing struggle since Cole's passing. Some will intentioned people ave tried to steer the organization on a secure course. They just haven't had the experience or know-how to continue or accomplish that. And it's a lot more complicated than I can put in a few paragraphs here. Yet very realistic.
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Old 4 December 2003, 10:12 AM   #106 (permalink)
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Sorry-This is a lousy new keyboard and I accidentally hit the "post" key before finishing or proof-reading.
I wish I could see the organization's charter. I can make up a whole list of things that would help ORA (not worrying about taking sides with Either the board OR the vocal section of the disgruntled membership). I'm only hearing one side here. From the little bit I've read quoting or reporting on board members, it would seem the board is quite content and has confidence in itself and had little or no intention of stepping down or keeping some of the people that were ther when Cole was there. Right or wrong-that is their postion, as I'm reading it.. Sugar in the fuel tank is not a board matter. Any investigator would take the matter right out of their hands.
Priority # 1 should be getting the ORA organization financially secure and healthy. To have the funds on hand to survive and prosper. You cannot plan for growth, maintenance, employment, project funding, museum security and preservation, restorations, insurance, advertising etc until that is taken care of. And it needs to be done with a clear plan with SPECIFIC listing on how to accomplish that. (No "apply for grants" but specific things like "Pay for Listing in NY Production Guide.") General members have to make the Board aware that they will be held accountable to accomplish this, or withthe next vote, get out of the way to make room for people who can and will. But if Neither the members NOR the board has a financial/income plan (AND the right Director to forcefully carry it out with authority (not fumble around, guessing)very soon, (not in 18 months-or more with delays) it won't matter who is right or wrong or outraged.
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Old 4 December 2003, 10:32 AM   #107 (permalink)
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Would you read some of the earlier posts before you start blaming the members for what's going on? Members don't get to vote at the Aerodrome, nobody but the board gets to vote on decisions, and about who is or isn't on the board. They just keep voting themselves on, and certainly won't vote anybody on who disagrees with them. There is no accountability as it stands now, this is one of the big problems.
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Old 4 December 2003, 10:58 AM   #108 (permalink)
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You misunderstood me (OR I did not make myself clear..) I am NOT blaming the members. I'm only saying that any counter-productive board members must be replaced. I have obviously assumed wrong about an elected board OR-there is something very wrong with the way the organization was inititally set up. As a NY State chartered and Federally approved 501c3 non-profit organization, I don't understand that there are no elections. As I said, previously, I'd sure like to see the charter.
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Old 4 December 2003, 11:15 AM   #109 (permalink)
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All -

I cannot emphasize too strongly that if you have specific information to share, be careful with whom you share it.

The case against the board is built on fact, but we must keep those facts close to the vest until the State authorities are brought in. Letting the opposition know what you have on them provides time for altering/destroying evidence, building plausible deniablility cases and pressuring those who would talk about it to authorities. All of which have been used as tactics by them already - in fact those small facts are part of the case.....

When the time is right, all will be out in the open, but until that happens it would be folly to allow our case to be aired here.

Keep talking, it makes them nervous........
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Old 4 December 2003, 03:50 PM   #110 (permalink)
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All right folks. Time to take a swing in the right direction.

Below is a "boiler-plate" letter for your convenience. It's an outline of the problems with the board and while it does not delve into details, there are plenty to back up the bullet points.

As the letter points out, a follow up will be heading to Mr. Palmquist’s office with the details to flesh out the broad allegations. Much has been discovered - more is coming.

I encourage each of you to read it thoroughly and if any part of it makes you uncomfortable – remove it. Add your own experiences and thoughts in any case. It’s our Aerodrome – not mine solely - and we should all put own personality into these letters.

If you have know pilots, aviation enthusiasts, historians, modelers, repro builders, journalists, collectors or anyone else whose voice can add to this, I urge you to encourage them to write as well. 100 letters might not do it – we need hundreds. When the voice of 4, 5, 6-hundred of us start speaking, notice will be taken. Do not wait, do not slacken the pace – start writing and encouraging others to do the same.

Any questions about this, feel free to contact me directly.

I urge everyone concerned with the future of ORA to send a copy to Mr. Palmquist, and cc. Gov Pataki and Senators Schumer and Clinton.

Mine will go out tomorrow....yours should too !

Their addresses follow:

Governor George E. Pataki
State Capitol
Albany, NY 12224

Senator Hillary Clinton
467 Russell Senate Office Building
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Senator Charles Schumer
313 Hart Senate Office Building
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Mr. David W. Palmquist, Head of Chartering Program
Dep't of Education
Cultural Education Center, Room 3090
Albany, NY 12230

************************************************** *******
December 2004
Dear Mr. Palmquist:

Recent events at the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome in Dutchess County have prompted me to write your office. Many members, employees past and present and aviation enthusiasts are deeply concerned about the future of the Aerodrome under its current Board of Trustees and administration.

The Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome is a cultural icon in the state and a haven for aviation enthusiasts the world over. It is a unique, irreplaceable organization, unmatched certainly in this country and probably in the world. I am concerned about its future and the intention of the current Board of Trustees.

Fellow enthusiasts, many of whom are now or have in the past worked at the Aerodrome or served on it’s board of directors have made it clear that the current Board of Trustees has potentially failed in it’s responsibilities in these key areas:

· By-Laws violations

· Deviation from its Mission Statement

· Potential Financial abuses

· Failure to uphold its fiduciary responsibilities in a number of areas.

· Questionable Management decisions in the area of board elections, financial management, de-accessioning of parts of the museum collection and labor management.

Recent firing of long-time employees, the departure of board members whose association with Old Rhinebeck stretches back to it’s origins, retention of employees of dubious character and the alienation of it’s supporters – it’s membership – have all raised the alarm among those concerned about the Aerodrome’s future.

The Aerodrome’s public image as a sanctioned non-profit in New York State is in serious jeopardy both among its members and the general public. Recent media and internet coverage has brought the matter to a wider audience and will continue to do so.

I would respectfully request your office to make inquiries with the Aerodrome Board of Trustees to ascertain their position on this matter. I understand a letter from “The Friends of the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome” is forthcoming which will give more detail and substance to the above allegations.

Sincerely Yours,
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