The Roulettes are flying the flag for Australia at this year’s Singapore Air Show. Six Pilatus PC-9/A turboprop trainers are looping and swooping above Changi, flown by instructor pilots from the Central Flying School of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) at East Sale in Victoria. They are led by Sqn. Ldr. Steve Baker, in his sixth season with the team and a veteran with almost 5,000 flying hours.
The 10-minute show features various formations, and synchronized maneuvers by Roulette 5 and 6. Flying as close as 10 feet apart, the aircraft achieve a top speed of 320 knots, pulling up to 6g.
The Roulettes do about 70 airshows per year. When not performing, the pilots “train the trainers.” That is, they teach the instructor course at the CFS. They are some of the most experienced pilots in the RAAF.
The tandem-seat PC-9 has been the RAAF’s advanced trainer for more than 20 years. Most of the fleet is based at Pearce in Western Australia, where students take a 120-hour course to gain their wings. The RAAF plans to replace the PC-9 toward the end of this decade, as part of Project 5428. This project aims to provide a turnkey training system from screening through to lead-in fighter training.