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The Turbulent: the star of the show

Richard FlappingAnyone who has seen a Turb Team display will tell you that the stars of the show are our diminutive D31 Turbulents - characterful single-seaters which, though French by design, are very much English by adoption.

The first example of Roger Druine’s aircraft flew in 1953, and such was the appeal of the Turb’s open cockpit and exuberant nature that by 1959 British versions had made themselves at home with the Tiger Club.

Powered by a 1600cc engine, weighing around 350lbs empty, and with a wingspan of just a little over 21ft, the Turb is little more than a flying motorbike - one whose lively handling not only encouraged the creation of the display team, but also made it the agent provocateur in countless Tiger Club escapades. In 1960, for example, the Duke of Edinburgh took himself off in G-APNZ, making the Turbulent the first and only single-seat aircraft to have been flown by a member of the royal family.

An agent provocateur in countless escapades

In the King’s Cup air race later that year, first and second places were taken by Turbs G-APNZ and G-APZZ piloted by John Severne and Turb Team founder Clive Francis - the same Clive Francis who’s reputed to have flown a Turb in through one end of a hangar and out of the other!

TurbTailsOf the twenty nine D31 and three D31A Turbulents built by Rollason Aircraft & Engines at Croydon Airport, the Tiger Club has been a home to at least 18, taking them to foreign shores and famous airshows, even creating a competition - the Dawn to Dusk challenge - around this aeroplane’s enthusiasm for flying.

Today, the Tiger Club owns five Turbs which are enjoyed by the members no less now than they were 50 years ago. Roger Druine called his aeroplane ‘a design for youth‘, but it’s probably nearer the mark to say that it’s a design for keeping pilots young - it’d be a very dull flyer indeed who didn’t return from a flight in a Turb without a grin from ‘ere to there!

For closer look at the Turb, visit our gallery


First flown in March 1961, Golf Zulu was with the Tiger Club for a couple of years before being sold and moving to Biggin Hill in 1963. In the early 80s, the aircraft re-appeared at Redhill in a yellow-and-black scheme, and was bought by club member John Watkins, who flew it with the Turb Team. It was then sold again and ended up at the back of Rochester's hangar after an accident. The wreck was bought and moved down to Devon where it was rebuilt before being bought back by the Club in 1998.


Mike Zulu took to the air and was operated by the Tiger Club for a while until it was sold by its manufacturer, Rollasons. In 1996, a club member found it in Lincolnshire, where it had lain unflown for eight years. After being rebuilt by John Day at Chessington, it returned to the fold sporting its original colour scheme, and rejoined the team with which it had flown more than 25 years before. MZ was owned by club members John Mickleburgh and David Clark until 2005, when it was bought by the Tiger Club.


Victor Zulu was the 4th Turbulent built by Rollasons and had its first flight on the 19th February 1960. It joined the Tiger Club fleet in the same year but was later sold to a private owner. It didn’t return to the club until late 2003.




Recently Refurbished and now back in the team. One of 2 of our Turbs with a larger cockpit making it more comfortable for the taller members of the team.






November Zulu is one of two Tiger Club Turbs that can be converted to fly on skis.