Australia's voice loud and clear in the global F-35 test team
By AFHQ, 08 March 2013 13:40:29

Today marks 100 years since the formation of the Royal Australian Air Force's Central Flying School (CFS) at Point Cook, Victoria. CFS has a rich and varied history, originally training pilots for the Australian Flying Corps, and later training instructors, which it continues to this day.

Since its inception, several thousand personnel have passed through the School as students or staff and in the hundred years since it was established the school has operated over 50 different types of aircraft.

Chief of Air Force, Air Marshal Geoff Brown, AO, said "I congratulate CFS on their outstanding achievements. It is a magnificent milestone that we can all be justifiably proud to celebrate. Many Air Force personnel, past and present, have contributed to the proud tradition and high standards of CFS, which I am confident will prevail into our future."

It is possible to trace the beginnings of CFS back to 1909, when the Department of Defence recognised the potential of aviation. In 1912, Lieutenants Henry Petre and Eric Harrison were selected to establish CFS, beginning with four mechanics, three other staff and five aircraft including a Bristol Boxkite for initial training.

The first flying course in 1914 had just four students, including the future Air Marshal Sir Richard Williams. CFS was disbanded in December 1919 having trained 156 pilots. CFS was reformed in April 1940 as part of the fledgeling Royal Australian Air Force, seven months after Britain declared war against Germany during World War II. The unit had a number of homes including Camden, Tamworth, Parkes and returned to Point Cook before being moved to its current home in East Sale in November 1947. During World War II, CFS trained 3600 instructors - a phenomenal effort.

From 1948 to 1981, CFS also trained Air Traffic Controllers in addition to pilot trainees and instructors. In 1978 the achievements of CFS were recognised with the presentation of the Queens Colour.

CFS has provided formation aerobatics teams (including the Red Sales and Telstars) that have spanned over five decades. December 1989 saw the first Roulettes Display in the PC-9/A. The Roulettes have since become a household name and celebrated their 40th anniversary in 2010. When they are not performing, Roulettes pilots teach qualified RAAF pilots to become flying instructors.

CFS is also the home of the RAAF Balloon.

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Central Flying school continues to perform a vital role and is the oldest flying unit in the Australian Defence Force.