The Rollason Condor differed in a number of ways from the original French two-seat design by Roger Druine first flown in 1956 as F-WBIX. While admirable for amateur construction, Druine’s primary aim, it was less well suited for the demands of club flying. Norman Jones, the founder of the Tiger Club and owner of Rollason Aircraft & Engines, had already had a number of Druine D.31 Turbulents built by his company and hit upon the idea of developing the Condor for this role.
Initially Rollasons constructed D.62 G-ARHZ in 1961 with a 75 hp Continental A75, with which it made its first flight in May of that year. "Air Pictorial" for April 1961, when reporting the completion of this first Rollason-built specimen, mentioned that it was to be called the Tutor! In 1964 the first Condor was upgraded by the installation of a 90 hp Continental C90-14F engine.
Despite the fact that Croydon Airport had closed in September 1959 Rollasons retained a factory there where the first and all subsequent Condors were constructed. As flying was no longer possible from the former Airport site all the Condors, on completion, were transported to Redhill for their first flight.
Development continued through the D.62A with a 100 hp Continental O-200-A of which only G-ARVZ (originally a D.62) and G-ASEU were built before the definitive version, the D.62B, came along in 1964 beginning with G-ASRB. This had a fuselage four inches shorter, some also had clipped wings with end plates, and all but the first four, from G-ATOH onwards, had flaps. Finally came the D.62C with a 130 hp Continental O-240-A for which G-ATAV was converted, followed by others as well as new-build. Many of this variant were later used as glider tugs.The first Condor to be used as a glider tug was actually a D.62B, G-AWFN, without flaps, radio and all but basic instruments, with the fitting for an Ottfor towing hook.
Norman Jones was keenly interested in the development of Flying Clubs and so made Condors available on favourable loan terms. As will be seen from the individual aircraft details which follow (correct to the end of 2000) they found temporary homes with clubs throughout the country and it is for this reason that precise dates of use are often unknown.
To emphasise the fact that his company was entirely independent and un-subsidised, Norman Jones had painted beneath the registration of Condor G-AVKM the legend "This aircraft is British Made - Private Enterprise and No Taxpayers Money". Writing in "Flight" in August 1967 he pointed out that all design development work and certification had been done by Rollason who paid a royalty to Roger Druine's widow for every Condor built. He went on to say that since the Condor had obtained a full CofA it had been used successfully for instruction by many Flying Clubs and Groups and had flown over 20,000 hours with many PPLs obtained on them.
A remarkable number of Condors still survive although, with Flying Clubs having moved on to other types, they remain largely in the hands of private owners or Groups, with Watchford Farm in Devon being home to three examples. After nearly 40 years they are still providing interesting and pleasurable flying at a reasonable rate.
This text originally appeared along with the histories of each individual aircraft as a series of articles in Air-Britain Magazine during Spring, Summer & Autumn 2001. The article was written by John Havers, who traced the general history of the Rollason Condor and the specific history of each individual aircraft up to present day.
We are indebted to both John and Air-Britain for allowing us to use these articles as a permanent record of the Condor.