Show-stopping finale for the PC-9/A

Royal Australian Air Force Roulette No. 5, Flight Lieutenant Des Hales (2nd from right), waves towards the crowd at the Australian International Airshow in Avalon, Victoria.

The Air Force Roulettes gave three final displays in their trademark Pilatus PC-9/A at the 2019 Australian International Airshow at Avalon, marking the end of 30 years of service. 

The PC-9/A is being retired and will be replaced by the Pilatus PC-21. 

For those watching the displays, it was the end of an era, but not before some crowd-pleasing moments.

As two PC-9/As headed towards each other in excess of 1000km/h, the aircraft safely passed one another with just a few metres to spare. 

Then, four colleagues performed a corkscrew barrel roll with one aircraft inverted and all just 200ft from the ground. 

There was the bomb burst, the mirror and, in a nod to the future, four Pilatus PC-21 aircraft joined the early formations. 

Following another perfect performance, there was time for Flight Lieutenant Owen Rose to reflect on an old friend. Flight Lieutenant Rose had the seat as Roulette Three and his tour with the team ended with the departure of his aircraft. 

“I’ve absolutely loved flying the PC-9/A. I’m going to miss it. It’s fast, powerful and very responsive,” he said. “It’s easy to fly but difficult to fly well. I was super excited to be the last Roulette Three on the PC-9/A.”

Roulette Two, Flight Lieutenant Daniel Price, like his colleagues, has completed the conversion to the PC-21 and cannot wait to get started. 

“It looks like a fighter jet inside and flies like a fighter jet,” Flight Lieutenant Price said. 

“It goes faster, turns harder, is pressurised and flies higher than the PC-9/A,” he said. 

The PC-21 has a more powerful 1600hp engine than the PC-9/A and it offers an 8G (g-force) experience in the turn for its pilot. There’s a heads-up, multi-function display, auto pilot and a five-blade propeller.

A greater top speed but a little slower getting there will see the Roulettes make changes to next season’s routine. 

Since the airshow, the Roulettes PC-9/As are now to be based at RAAF Base Pearce in Perth to see out the remainder of their time with Air Force.