Aeroelastic systems with freeplay nonlinearity can exhibit a wide variety of qualitatively different dynamical responses such as limit cycle oscillations and chaos in the pre-flutter regimes. Consequently, the bifurcation scenario in an aeroelastic system with freeplay nonlinearity under uniform flows have received considerable attention in the literature. However, in reality flows are far from deterministic and often possess a small temporal random fluctuations about a mean value. Input flow fluctuations have the potential to alter the stability and give rise to atypical routes to flutter. Indeed, recent studies have shown that under flow fluctuations the aeroelastic systems loses its stability via a regime of oscillations called intermittency. Further, it is observed that the presence of cubic hardening nonlinearity and input flow fluctuations with predominantly long time scales can give rise to "on-off" type intermittency. This dynamical behaviour is attributed to type of nonlinearity and relatively short time scale for the system to stay and exhibit distinct dynamics. Extending the mechanism of intermittency route to flutter in aeroelastic systems with other prominent types of nonlinearities, such as, freeplay have however, received minimal attention in the literature. The present study devotes itself to investigate the response dynamics of an airfoil with freeplay nonlinearity subjected to long time scale input flow fluctuations. © The Authors, published by EDP Sciences, 2018.