3 March 2020
The Roulettes are the Royal Australian Air Force's aerobatic display team. They were established in 1970 following the success of earlier teams, the Red Sales and Telstars.
The Roulettes had their first public display at RAAF Base Point Cook in 1970. The team flew a Macchi MB-326 aircraft, which was replaced by the Pilatus PC-9/A (the Air Force's new pilot training aircraft) in 1989. Since then, the Roulettes have become a six aircraft, seven member team which completes two display seasons each year (a season runs for six months).
The Pilatus PC-9/A retired from Roulettes operations in March 2019 and was replaced by Pilatus PC-21 – one of the most advanced training aircraft in the world.
Roulette displays are flown all around Australia and consist of a number of manoeuvres flown in various formations at low level. They are an extension of formation, aerobatics, low level flying, and airmanship skills, taught to Air Force pilots and developed throughout their career.
The Roulettes fly as low as 250 feet (80 m) at speeds of up to 370 knots to 685km/h and pilots can experience up to 6 ‘G', or 6 times, the force of gravity during a display. Flying as close as three metres apart, the team showcases the level of visual judgement and hand-eye coordination that pilots in the Air Force are able to achieve.
Roulette pilots are Qualified Flying Instructors who work at the Central Flying School, based at RAAF Base East Sale in Victoria. Between displays, they teach other Air Force pilots to become instructors.