Saturday 21 December 2019

60th Anniversary of the Turbulent in New Zealand

As I have recently been involved in The Gathering, an event to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first flight of a Jodel D9 in New Zealand (which sadly was reduced to a "Petit Gathering" at Waipukurau on 30 November), it occurred to me that we have just passed another significant anniversary for sport flying in New Zealand.

That is the 60th anniversary of the first flight of a Druine Turbulent in New Zealand.  The first Turbulent flight took place on 8 December 1959 when ZK-BWE first flew at Palmerston North, flown by Syd Jensen.  This was the start of the sport flying movement in New Zealand and which has resulted in over 1500 sport aircraft being registered over the intervening 60 years (and that number does not include the many hundreds of tube and fabric microlights).

Syd Jensen with his Turbulent ZK-BWE at Palmerston North in 1959.

and a couple of early colour photos of ZK-BWE from Don Noble.

We have posted quite a few times about ZK-BWE on the NZ Civair blog, and I will re-post some of them below:

A Flyernzl post from April 2010:   I have dug out some ancient photographs of ZK-BWE taken at Ardmore on 1st November 1965. These show the Turbulent getting ready for an airing, and one of it on climbout. I noted the colours at that time as 'white with blue trim'.
Pilot was John Caston.

The AFS Cessna was ZK-CFD, and the Auckland Gliding Club's Commer van mobile control tower can be seen prowling in the background.

A not-so-good pre-telephoto lens photo of the initial climb off Ardmore's 21 runway shows the scattering of ex-air force prefabs still extant in the distance.

John and ZK-BWE were involved in a crash at Ardmore on the 30th March 1968. Presumably the Turbulent was repaired after that accident prior to its move North.

And a  Blue Bus post, from March 2013:  I have received some interesting photographs from Des Smith taken in the early 1960's.

Above we see ZK-BWE at Hastings with Des Smith in the cockpit. Photo by E Hales. In the background is the Miles Whitney Straight ZK-AXD and the HB and ECAC Tiger Moth ZK-ANP.
ZK-BWE was damaged on 03-01-1963 by another pilot after engine problems at Waiohiki. I seem to recall that the fuel cap vent was blocked. As can be seen below the wing was badly damaged.
The aircraft was repaired and is still current today with Bruce Shepherd of Whangarei, having been in his care since mid 1971 - this is still true today in December 2019, although the aircraft is for sale and hasn't flown in a long time..


  1. Where's the "like button"?
    Not enough fuss is made of these milestones………..

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.