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The Display

Turb Heading for Poles “Only the French could design an aeroplane so pretty,” said one airshow commentator at Valenciennes, “and only the English would fly it like this! ”And perhaps he was right. After all, the Turb Team’s display is a very English combination of the comic and the serious. On the one hand, our mission is to entertain, and when the Turb Team arrives ‘to give of its antics’, as the Tiger Club’s Lewis Benjamin once put it, the audience responds. It’s not because they know that our mix of low-level formation, flour-bombing, balloon-bursting and limbo-flying is virtually unique on the airshow circuit today.

The focus of the action is rarely far from the audience

Instead, it’s because the hallmark of our display is immediacy: the highest manoeuvre we perform - the Prince of Wales break - takes place at just 700ft, while the lowest takes us down to just three or four feet as we fly under lines of bunting. This means that, throughout our 16- minute display, the focus of the action is rarely far from the audience, who’re able to really appreciate the precision of the team’s formation changes and the vertiginous turns of its aerial chases. This makes members of the audience much more than spectators - they’re almost part of the display. They cheer when they hear the helium balloons being burst; they jump when an explosion follows a well-aimed flour-bomb; and when the team flies by at the end of the display, they can see from the pilots’ waves that they’ve enjoyed flying for them.

FormationOn the other hand, we’re also serious about providing this entertainment. As one of our pilots, Jon Bastin, remarked, the Turb’s low power makes it a challenge to display in a way that’s both dynamic and exciting but still safe - especially at low level. So while we’re delighted to play up to the suggestion that our aircraft fly in the colours of the Early Learning Centre - at least, that’s how John Nolan introduced us in his commentary at Yeovilton! - our approach to display safety is anything but elementary.

Indeed, it’s because the Turb Team has a reputation for creating a safe spectacle that we’ve been invited to display at venues such as London City Airport, Duxford and Biggin Hill, and to share the billing with even the most famous airshow acts, from the Red Arrows and the Patrouille Suisse, the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and the stars of Duxford’s Fighter Collection to modern military hardware like the Eurofighter.

"The crowd applauded for ages asking for more"

On these occasions, of course, our job is to provide the light entertainment, but that hasn’t stopped us stealing some of the big boys’ thunder! Mike Le’mmon, one of our groundcrew, recalls an appearance at a prestigious military airshow: “We turned up to find millions of pounds of hardware sitting on the aprons, beside which the Turbs looked ridiculous. But on display day it was the Turb Team that took top honours for entertainment: the crowd applauded for ages asking for more.”

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