The Air Force “Roulettes” took to the sky at the 2019 Australian International Airshow in Avalon, Victoria for one last time to commemorate a monumental celebration – the retirement of their loyal Pilatus PC-9/A gliders from RAAF, marking the end of 30 years of loyal service and over 500,000 flight hours dedicated to training future pilots.
“The aircraft has successfully supported 103 pilot training courses and graduated more than 1400 pilots from Navy and Air Force” comments an RAAF Air Commodore.
The majestic jets, dressed in distinguished red-and-white “Roulette” colours, flew in perfect choreographed formation. The operating pilots, all six of which are RAAF flying instructors, displayed highly intricate skills learned through intense and consuming training utilising the noble and trusted Pilatus PC-9 machines.


RAAF aerobatic displays are often reserved for another form of commemoration—celebrating Air Force and Navy Training Pilots at their annual Graduation ceremony. For the number of flying instructors operating the Pilatus PC-9/A jets in formation, the traditional flight is a special way to honour their training graduates for the hard work, resilience, and camaraderie they’ve shown as part of their flight training.
Spectacular formations, such as the Thunderbird and the Diamond 9, fly above the graduates and their families as a salute to their training career. This milestone, after all, marks hundreds of live flight and simulator hours, a highly disciplined training regime and unmatched determination that kept Training Pilots soaring to new heights.


Pilatus PC-9/A’s have lent their wings to Training Pilots across Australia for over 30 years.
The proud machines carried each Training Pilot for at least 130 flight hours as part of the Advanced Flying Training Course. Upon completing this soaring part of their training, the graduates are awarded their wings and posted to a flying squadron.

The Pilatus PC-9/A was flown by;

  1. Central Flying School (CFS) – RAAF Base East Sale, VIC
  2. No 2 Flying Training School (2FTS) – RAAF Base Pearce, WA
  3. Aircraft Research and Development Unit (ARDU) – RAAF Base Edinburgh, SA
  4. 4 Squadron (the Forward Air Control Development Unit – FACDU) – RAAF Base Williamtown, NSW
  5. RAAF Roulettes aerobatic team


It is of no surprise that after 30 years of flying for RAAF, many pilots spoke of Pilatus PC-9/A jets as of a close and familiar friend, a trusted “wingman”.


The graduation ceremony from 2FTS is ritualistic and treated as of utmost importance in the life of an RAAF Pilot. After all, the ceremony awards a Training Pilot their wings. The aerobatic display is only one part of it. It often takes place pre-ceremony to entertain, exhilarate and honour the graduates and their families before ceremonially receiving their titles as “Pilot Officers”.
Training Pilots are also initiated with an acknowledgement from a highly-ranking reviewing Government official. Governor of Western Australia Kim Beazley was present to acknowledge and congratulate Officer Pilots at RAAF Base Pearce in the last graduation ceremony 2020, held on December 11.
A Welcome to the Country and a traditional indigenous smoking ceremony of the pilot’s brevets are conducted, acknowledging the significance for graduates and the traditional owners of the landscape they trained to soar on.


The Graduation ceremony marks the start of a new chapter in the life of a Pilot Officer, after which they wish each other farewell for time spent in loyal camaraderie with one another and head off on respective assignments as part of RAAF flying squadrons around the nation.
The RAAF Graduation ceremony, held on December 6, 2019, at Base Pearce, WA, was the last to farewell a squadron trained entirely on the Pilatus PC-9/A. Participating officers emotionally regarded it as also a commemoration of the fleet.
Like the pilot officers, the Pilatus PC-9/As were moved on to the next stage of their life, in the case of the fleet – a retirement to the life of a civilian. Unlike their training Pilots, however, the proud machines cannot move on themselves, and Australian Frontline Machinery has proudly stepped up to assist.
The last fleet of Pilatus PC-9/A’s is up for auction this November – and is the last chance to bid on this beloved part of RAAF history.

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We acknowledge the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the First Australians and Traditional Custodians of the land on which we live, learn and work.

We acknowledge the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the First Australians and Traditional Custodians of the land on which we live, learn and work.


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