History of RAAF Aerobatic Teams

The Roulettes currently fly the Pilatus PC-9/A to showcase Air Force flying skills to the Australian public. However, the genesis of formation aerobatic teams at Central Flying School dates back to well before the introduction of the PC-9/A.

In 1962, a team named "The Red Sales" was formed flying four de Havilland Vampire T33 aircraft. The Red Sales gave their first public performance at the Royal Hobart Regatta in February 1962. They also performed at Wagga Wagga and at a School of Air Navigation course graduation at RAAF Base East Sale.

In February 1963 a new team, known as "The Telstars", was formed, also flying Vampires. Their first display was at a School of Air Navigation course graduation.

In February 1968 the team performed for the first time in a new aircraft, the Italian-designed Aermacchi MB 326H, commonly known as the Macchi. The Macchi was an agile aircraft and its fine handling made it eminently suitable for aerobatic work. The Telstars only flew the new aircraft until April 1968 when the team was disbanded due to an Air Force-wide reduction in display flying.

The newly-formed Roulettes flew their first public display in December 1970 at RAAF Base Point Cook. The name 'Roulettes' has its origins in one of the early manoeuvres performed by the first team. Two Macchis flew in opposite directions round a horizontal circle and crossed in front of the crowd in a routine that was called the 'roulette'.

The Macchi was the vehicle for the Roulettes from their inception until 1989. In 1989, the Macchi was replaced by the Swiss-built Pilatus PC-9/A aircraft as the RAAF's pilot training plane. During this year, pairs of Macchis and PC-9/As presented displays around the country while the team converted to the PC-9/A. A six-aircraft PC-9/A team debuted at Mt Gambier in March 1990 and the flying team composition has remained the same since. A seventh member coordinates the public relations, provides commentary during the shows and flies the spare aircraft.