The Journal of the Friends of Sywell Aerodrome

No. 6 Summer 2001

Jodels and Robins at Sywell

by Chris Parker

Based at Sywell since 1977, G-BDDF is the Skyriders Flying Group's Jodel D120
Based at Sywell since 1977, G-BDDF is the Skyriders Flying Group's Jodel D120

A feature of the Sywell scene, and indeed many private and business airfields across the UK and Europe, for nearly fifty years have been the French designed and built Jodel and Robin series of low wing wooden aircraft.

The history of the type can be traced to the single seat open cockpit 'Bébé', designed and built by the father in law/son in law partnership of Edouard Joly and Jean Délémontez in Beaune, France in 1948. This little aeroplane was so successful that through their 'Jodel' company (an amalgam of their surnames), the two men firstly produced and sold plans for the Bébé, and followed this with a closed cockpit 2 seat design, the Dll, in 1950. The hallmark of these and all subsequent Jodel designs in the wing shape of a flat centre section, with the cranked up wing tips - the characteristic 'bent wing'. The design is a very neat combination of strength and aerodynamic efficiency giving all Jodels a weight carrying and performance advantage over similar types.

Showing off the Jodel hallmark 'bent wing' is Robin DR315 of the Delta Kilo Group
Showing off the Jodel hallmark 'bent wing' is Robin DR315 of the Delta Kilo Group

The Dll also rapidly became popular, and in addition to homebuilders, several commercial concerns began manufacturing variations of the design under licence. Foremost of these were Wassmer Aviation at Issoire who built the 65 hp D112 and 90 hp D120, and Societé Aeronautique Normande (SAN) at Bernay in Normandy whose most numerous machine was the 90 hp D117. Between them, Wassmer and SAN delivered several hundred of the two seat Jodels between 1955 and 1965.

In the late 1950s demand grew for a larger version of the Jodel with greater seating capacity. This was satisfied by a new variant designed by Jean Delemontez in co-operation with a flying instructor from Dijon, M Pierre Robin. This aircraft, the DR100 'Ambassadeur' was the start of a series of 'DR' types manufactured by Pierre Robin's newly formed company - initially named Centre Est Aeronautique (CEA) and later Avions Robin. The DR series has included two main nosewheel ranges, the DR300 and DR400, the latter still remaining in production in Dijon.

Recently refurbished by Fordaire 'PX is a Robin DR400/160
Recently refurbished by Fordaire 'PX is a Robin DR400/160

The earliest Jodels seen at Sywell would have been amateur built Dlls which visited the first Popular Flying Association Rally in 1957. Shortly afterwards, the Surrey-based Tiger Club became agents for Jodels and several of the type joined the fleet of aircraft which toured the country giving the club's famous air displays - these shows were an annual feature at Sywell at that time.

Sywell's first resident Jodel was D117 G-ASJZ belonging to the Sywell Skyriders Flying Group which arrived in 1965. From that year onwards Sywell has always housed one or more of the 'bent wing' wooden Jodel or Robin variants. For a number of years from 1970 onwards, the Robin company had a direct presence at Sywell in the shape of Avions Robin UK, managed by M Andre Baldet. The new and second hand Jodels and Robins sold by this company ran into dozens, and in the 1970s new DR400s flowed through Sywell on an almost daily basis.

Seven of the design are currently based at Sywell including D120 G-BDDF, DR253 G-AYUB, DR300s G-KIMB, G-DRZF and G-AXDK, and DR400s G-BAPX and G-BAMU - all of them lovingly cared for by their owners. The youngest of these aircraft is nearing 30 years old - some things do improve with age! Two clubs cater for the interests of 'bentwing' enthusiasts, the International Robin Club and our own Jodel Club, which has a worldwide membership. Chris or Mavis Parker can supply details on the latter (01604-890512).

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Sywell Aviation Ltd. is a company registered in England with company no. 03180760 & VAT no. 623 8222 56.
Registered offices: Hall Farm, Sywell, Northampton, NN6 0BT.

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