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Written by Michael Damiani.
Aircraft of all sizes celebrate the early days of aviation
As featured in the August 2013 issue of Model Aviation and the app.

The unassuming farming community in Bethel, Pennsylvania, is flanked to the north by the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains and to the south by rolling farmland. It is home to a unique air museum.

Near Reading, Pennsylvania, the Golden Age Air Museum is based at Grimes Airfield, near Exit 15 on U.S. Route 78, and contains a growing collection of Golden Age and World War I-era airplanes. Among its many treasures, the museum features an original Curtiss Jenny, a full-scale replica Fokker Dr.I powered by a Le Rhône rotary engine, and a recently completed full-scale Sopwith Pup replica, as well as many other significant airplanes from the Golden Age.

The 2013 Golden Age Air Museum RC Model Meet will be held August 23-25, but for the past five years it was held in late September or early October. The facility has graciously opened the museum, runway, and ramp area to RC modelers to enjoy three days of flying RC Scale airplanes, including civilian aircraft, racers, military models from the Pioneer Era through 1941. If the prototype flew prior to or during 1941, it is eligible. Heavy, metal World War II designs, built during the prewar period, are also included in the list of eligible models.

Hosted by the Tri-County Sky Barons of Mifflintown, Pennsylvania, open flying on Friday and the two weekend days allowed modelers to experience flight at a beautiful field, with clear approaches surrounded by the aura of an airfield from out of the 1920s and ’30s. The hangars and airplanes of Golden Age Air Museum are available to the modelers and spectators for their perusal when a break from the flightline is needed.

Although the 2011 meet was nearly a washout, a great number of modelers and airplanes turned out for the event. That year also saw the attendance of a 1/2-scale Fokker Eindecker, a 1/2-scale Sopwith Pup, a 1/2-scale J-3, the gorgeous five-cylinder, radial-powered Fleet Finch built by Andy Philipczak, and the inaugural flight of Larry Alles’ giant, immaculate Cessna 140.

Almost as an apology for the previous year, 2012 provided blue skies, decent winds, and three days of enjoyable flying. It featured the biggest crowd of pilots and spectators to date at the event.

The quality of models was high. Larry Alles and Andy Philipczak were back and Rick Andres came out with a gorgeous new civilian paint job on his Ziroli Staggerwing. Dave West brought his immaculate 1/3-scale Glenn Torrance Models Fokker Dr.I. Among other notable aircraft were a Giant Scale de Havilland DH.4, an Avro 504C, and a 1/2-scale Nieuport 11.

The president and founder of Golden Age Air Museum, Paul Dougherty Jr., puts the museum’s original Curtiss JN-4D Jenny through its paces. This restored airplane’s paint scheme represents famous barnstormer and Hollywood pilot Earl S. Daugherty’s aircraft. Photo by Tim Haggerty.

The museum’s Rumpler C.V replica was originally built by Slingsby Aircraft for the 1960s motion picture Lawrence of Arabia, using de Havilland DH.82 Tigermoth parts. Tom Beamer is the pilot, in formation with the Fokker Dr.I flown by Paul Dougherty Jr. Haggerty photo.

The museum’s Sopwith Pup was completed on July 6, 2012, in the colors of Lieutenant James Glenn. It is flown here by Mike Damiani, who is being chased by Lothar von Richthofen’s Fokker Dr.I 454/17 triplane, flown by Paul Dougherty Jr. Haggerty photo.

Larry Alles from Chalfont PA, flies his beautiful Cessna 140 in for a perfect touch-and-go. Larry is a master craftsman and maintains this level of craftsmanship in every airplane he builds. Photo by Kenny Lisle.

Saturday’s planned midday demonstration hit a hitch when the weather was too rough to fly the full-scale Fokker Dr.I and Rumpler C.V replica. Fortunately, the full-scale Curtiss Jenny, Sopwith Pup, and Great Lakes 2T-1A were able to fly and put on a 3-D aerobatics demonstration before the field was opened again to model flying.

Because the triplane was unable to fly at the noon airshow, after the wind died down on Saturday evening, Paul Dougherty Jr., Tom Beamer, and I put on an air show featuring the museum’s Rumpler C.V replica, the Sopwith Pup, and the Le Rhône-powered Fokker triplane.

The museum has developed an aerial battle sequence that simulates a WW I battle between an observation airplane and two fighters. As the Rumpler flies by on its observation mission, the Sopwith Pup (painted in the markings of Lieutenant James Alpheus Glen, a 15-victory ace in the Royal Navy Air Service) dives in to attack.

Suddenly, out of the sun comes the triplane (painted in the markings of Lothar von Richthofen, the younger brother of Manfred von Richthofen) to rescue the Rumpler. The Pup spews smoke after a harrowing dogfight and then the triplane and the Pup fly in loose formation, passing in review.

Sunday’s noontime demonstration was a shorter, simulated dogfight between the Fokker Dr.I, flown by museum president Paul Doughterty, and the Sopwith Pup which I flew, with multiple passes for spectator review.

The east end of the flightline on Saturday, from midfield. Lisle photo.

The Giant Scale de Havilland DH-4 is built and flown by Keith Zimmerly. This airplane featured a unique scale exhaust system. Lisle photo.

The business end of Andy Philipczak’s Fleet Finch. It’s powered by a Saito Engines 325 five-cylinder radial engine. Lisle photo.

This gorgeous, 1/3-scale Fokker Dr.I was built by Dave West from a Glenn Torrance Models kit. The detail in this model is astounding and representative of Dave’s craftsmanship. Lisle photo.

For the 2013 RC meet at the Golden Age Air Museum, there is lots of room for primitive camping and lots of available vendor space. The cost is $15 per day or $20 for the weekend for all the space you would like. Food and refreshments are available all weekend. Biplane rides in a 1929 WACO biplane are available all weekend (weather permitting). There will also be hangar space available for the RC aircraft.

This year’s Golden Age Air Museum RC Meet will again be hosted by the Tri-County Sky Barons, but will be moved to the end of August to better accommodate the museum’s schedule of events and to avoid the wet, windy weather of late fall.

Please contact Eric Lunger, CD Chuck Hockenberry, or the Golden Age Air Museum office for more information. Their email addresses and telephone numbers are listed in “Sources.”

Plan to be there. It will be a treat you’ll not soon forget!
—Michael Damiani


Eric Lunger
(717) 994-7735

Chuck Hockenberry (CD)
(717) 527-4701

Golden Age Air Museum
(717) 933-9566)

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