In casting about for a film project, Devin Pickering discovered that one of his fascinations happened to be located in his hometown: the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome, the living history museum of World War I-era airplanes started by the late Cole Palen over half a century ago. Pickering wants to make a 20-to-30-minute documentary that somewhat paradoxically uses new technology to capture the thrills of flying in these open-cockpit planes. By using new high-speed cameras, “You can do extreme slow motion, where you see the propeller cutting through the air,” he said.
The film would include interviews with Aerodrome pilots and essentially offer a meditation on flying when it was a novel and daring sport, as remarkably preserved at the Aerodrome. “Lots of places that have planes over 100 years old either fit them out with modern equipment or put them in a museum and let them collect dust,” Pickering said. In contrast, the Aerodrome “is bursting with energy. I’m hoping to capture the spirit it had when Cole Palen was alive. The pilots fly the planes exactly the way they were meant to be flown, and it’s very dangerous: People have died. It’s an incredible amount of work to keep the craft airworthy, and the pilots have to be extremely skilled.”
Pickering plans to make the film with a crew of three: himself as director/co-producer, sound technician James Foster and assistant director/co-producer Francesco Cordaro. Filming would take place in July and August. Pickering, who runs a film production company out of his home, edited Once in a Lullaby, which was screened at the TriBeCa Film Festival in April.
But first, he needs to raise $5,000 – by June 23, no less. He’s optimistic, having raised 30 percent of the money in the first week of his Kickstarter campaign, which launched at the end of May. To lure donors, he’s offering a slew of prizes: For example, those who contribute $1,000 or more get a Blu-Ray copy of the film with photos, as well as a digital HD download of the film, an associate producer credit, a model biplane kit, two tickets for the film premiere and a ticket to fly in a biplane at the Aerodrome. For a look at the impressively well-produced trailer and details on donating, visit www.kickstarter.com/projects/aerodrome/aerodrome. To get out the word, Pickering is also going door-to-door distributing cards that, when scanned by a phone, link to the video.
In the meantime, you can visit the Aerodrome itself, which is opening for the season this Saturday. Every weekend from June 9 until mid-October, the Aerodrome will be holding its air show of daring barnstormers, as well as taking visitors for rides in a 1929 biplane. Visit www.oldrhinebeck.org for details and a schedule of special events.