Roger Druine was a French flying instructor in the 1950s with several aircraft designs already to his credit, including an attractive little single-seater known as the D.31 Turbulent. He realised that there would also be a ready market for a simple-to-construct two seater, which could act as a club aircraft and an economical tourer; the result was the Druine D.5 Turbi.
The structure of this French-designed classic was primarily wood, with a simple, parallel-chord wing (with slotted ailerons) built up around a wooden, laminated box spar. To make for better controllability, with a single occupant, the aircraft is usually flown from the rear of the two open cockpits. Power came, initially from a Beaussier-converted Citroen car engine, producing about 50hp. This gave a top speed close to 90 mph, and the generous wing surface ensured that the stalling speed was only 34mph! The Turbi was greeted with acclaim by home-constructors everywhere – the first British example being built by a Popular Flying Association group in Hatfield, Hertfordshire in 1955. Two years later, in Glasgow, a Mr Francis Roche conceived of the idea of building a Turbi, and in 1960, G-APBO took to the air. Powered by a Continental Motors Corporation C-75-12 air-cooled engine of 75 hp, ‘Bravo Oscar’ gave excellent service to many owners, finally ending up with Mr Rupert Hibberd of Wiltshire.
Here you can see ‘Bravo Oscar’, one of only two British aircraft still active, at the Great Vintage Flying Weekend, at Keevil Airfield. A regular GVFWE visitor, she also appeared at the Hullavington and Kemble shows. This very attractive green/white paint scheme was seen on the aircraft in 2004; other colour schemes in which the aircraft has appeared include blue and white in 1981, and a rather florid scarlet, silver and yellow paint job in 1960!
A wide range of air-cooled engines have been fitted to various airframes over the years, including the De H Gipsy Minor of 90hp (fitted to the first British-built aircraft), the Czech-built Walter LOM II AE of 65 hp, and the Lycoming O-235 of 115hp – more than twice the original designed power.