Stanley Segalla, the Original ‘Flying Farmer,’ Passes Away

A fixture at the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome for decades, Segalla invented a routine that has been copied far and wide on the airshow circuit.

Stan Segalla
Airshow great Stan Segalla died at the age of 91.Facebook/Stanley Segalla

Airshow great Stan Segalla, best known for his comedy routine as “The Flying Farmer” at the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome in Upstate New York and other airshows around the Northeast, has died at 91.

A World War II vet, Segalla was a star attraction at Rhinebeck for many years before retiring for good in 2008. His signature routine, in which he would “steal” a Piper Cub and perform a heart-pounding low-level show that seemed at times seemed to defy the laws of physics – or at least common sense – delighted hundreds of thousands of spectators through his career and spawned numerous imitators who carry on with similar acts today.

A pilot’s pilot who owned 33 airplanes in his lifetime, Segalla started out at Rhinebeck in the show’s earliest days with founder Cole Palen. Segalla’s character in the World War I dogfight reenactments was the beloved “One-Shot Gatling” flying an antique Avro biplane.

In a statement, the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome said, “Stan elevated everyone around him with his experience and skill at the controls of anything he flew. He loved to give rides before and after the shows to any takers, often putting them through a full routine in his Cub or Decathlon, always a smile on the passenger's face when he brought them back to the flight line.”