Historic Race Winning Plane With Royal Pedigree to be Restored

Prince Philip flying the Druine D.31 Turbulent in 1959.

Prince Philip flying the Druine D.31 Turbulent in 1959.
Prince Philip flying the Druine D.31 Turbulent in 1959.
The Derby Aero Club of Egginton in Derby, UK is undertaking the restoration of a Druine D.31 Turbulent once flown by Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh and Royal Consort of Queen Elizabeth II. The plane is the only single seat aircraft ever flown by a member of the Royal Family, flown by the prince in 1959 when the plane was new as part of a campaign to encourage the public to engage in aviation.

The plane went on to compete in the King’s Cup Air Race in 1960, with Prince Philip’s equerry, retired air vice marshal Sir John Severne at the controls, winning the top prize in the London area to Glasgow, Scotland and back again race that has been held annually since 1922, though it was suspended during the Second World War.

Druine D.31 Turbulent with Sir John Severne at the controls for the 1960 Kings Cup Race, second place finisher in background.
Druine D.31 Turbulent with Sir John Severne at the controls for the 1960 Kings Cup Race, second place finisher in background.
The plane was in private hands in 1995 when it was damaged and though a repair and restoration project was begun by the plane’s owner, the project stalled and the plane has been languishing disassembled and in disrepair for the past eight years. The plane was recently transferred to the Derby Aero Club which has set up a trust to restore and preserve the historic little plane. Given that the plane is extremely basic and was designed to be, in some cases homebuilt from a kit, restoration of the craft is relatively simple, even with this particular example presently being in pieces.

Sir John Severne has been appointed as a trustee of the project and Price Philip has expressed an interest in coming to see the plane when it’s completed, though at their advanced ages, there’s little chance either will take to its controls again after all these years.

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