By TED LUEBBERS
Lou Larsen had been working on it for about 15 years in his garage. For the last four years it was moved to the EAA Chapter 534 hangar at the Leesburg International Airport in Leesburg, Florida, where the chapter members tried to help him complete it so that he might get to see it fly. Unfortunately, Lou would never see it fly as he died last year.
The plane was sold by his estate as a nearly completed project to a person at Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome. That’s all we knew at the time. The members of the chapter helped load it into an eighteen-wheeler in January 2017 and off it went over the road to its new home.
This replica 1929 Pietenpol had become the centerpiece in our hangar for those years and many of the members had a hand in the building. We all had lumps in our throats when the truck drove out of sight. We didn’t know who actually bought it and none of us had ever been to Old Rhinebeck, but some us knew of its reputation for displaying and flying very old airplanes.
My wife Joan and I have been traveling around the Northeast part of the country in our motorhome this summer and found ourselves in a KOA campground in Saugerties, N.Y. While looking at a map of the area we discovered we were only a short distance away from the Aerodrome in Rhinebeck, N.Y.
Since it was a Saturday, there was going to be an airshow at the Aerodrome, so we decided to check it out.
Our secondary purpose was to see if we could find Lou’s Pietenpol and its new owner.
After being directed to a parking space by show volunteers who were all dressed in period clothing I showed the nearest person I saw a picture of Lou’s plane on my iPad and asked if he knew where I could find it? To my astonishment, he said “that is my plane.”
Michael DiGiacmio is the new owner. He had seen an advertisement in an aviation publication and communicated with Lou’s heirs to make the purchase.
We talked for a while and he told me to go down the flight line and look for the hangar with the black cat on it and there I would find his plane not yet put together from its trip. He mentioned that the Ford Model A engine had been removed to be rebuilt.
Mike takes a very active part in the weekend airshow and we saw him several times during the afternoon fulfilling various World War I era roles in the air pageant.
Both Joan and I were very impressed with the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome Museum, the flyable condition of vintage and antique aircraft, the enthusiasm of the museum members to put on a good show, and the general layout of the grass, undulating airfield.
We were so impressed we put money down for a family membership. We will certainly return to visit whenever we make our north bound trips.
Based on what we saw and after speaking with Mike DiGiacmio we were happy to know that Lou’s Pietenpol is here and will one day be flying with all the other vintage airplanes. I think Lou would be happy to know this as well.
Ted sent in even more photos he took during his visit to the Aerodrome. Enjoy!