Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Whitsunday Airport Grand Airshow - A Closer look at the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Roulettes

The Roulettes are the elite formation aerobatic display team of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). Their primary role is to showcase the flying skills of the RAAF to the Australian public through aerobatic displays at major events and airshows.

The RAAF Roulettes currently fly Pilatus PC-9/A aircraft. These are two-seat single-engine (a Pratt and Whitney PT6A-62 turboprop with 950 shaft horsepower) aircraft, and are the major basic training aircraft of the Australian Defence Force (ADF). The PC-9/A, designed by Pilatus Switzerland and built under license by Hawker de Havilland in Sydney, was introduced to the Air Force in 1987. Pilot training in the aircraft commenced in 1989.

The team members of the Roulettes are flying instructors at the Air Force's Central Flying School. These experienced RAAF pilots fly six aircraft that comprise the team as a secondary role to their instructional tasks. Central Flying School trains Navy and Air Force pilots to become flying instructors.

The seven team members of the Roulettes, and the aircraft they flew at the Whitsunday Grand Airshow on Sunday 1 May, are:

Roulette Leader (Roulette One) - Squadron Leader Glenn Canfield - A23-039

Roulette Two - Flight Lieutenant Bernie Gleeson - A23-051

Roulette Three - Flight Lieutenant Col Burrows - A23-050

Roulette Four - Flight Lieutenant Cory Fischer - A23-060

Roulette Five - Squadron Leader Matt Plenty - A23-059

Roulette Six - Flight Lieutenant Tim Oldfield - A23-067

Roulette Seven - Flying Officer Gareth Gordon - A23-046

Roulette Seven was the 'spare' aircraft and F/O Gordon did the public announcing at the Airshow whilst the displays were in progress... and the two displays the Roulettes put on were fantastic!!

Also part of the Roulettes support crew at the Whitsunday Airshow was CHC Helicopters / Lloyd Helicopters Bell 412EP VH-EPK. This helicopter flies under the callsign "Chopper 2" and is airborne when the Roulettes perform, should anything disasterous occur during a display.

VH-EPK pictured below also performing a whinch rescue demonstration during the Airshow - causing several hats to be blown off in the crowd!!

You can find more information about the Roulettes on their website HERE.

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