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Pilatus PC-9/A - End Of An Era

Of course, when one era ends, another begins. After 30 years of service and a stellar farewell at the Australian Airshow in 2019, all of the RAAF Pilatus PC-9/A will be civilian-owned from this November, as it marks a very special event – Australian Frontline Machinery with auctioneer Pickles Auction is proud to take the last fleet of Pilatus PC-9/A gliders to the public. For the final time, Australians will have the opportunity to bid for these glorious pieces of RAAF history, with the capability to clock on many more flight hours. The originally planned withdrawal date for the Pilatus PC-9/A fleet was 2008, but after a review of condition and training ability, the RAAF was able to keep the type in service until late 2019. 

The retirement of the Pilatus PC-9/A from RAAF marked an end of an era and celebrated the majestic jets’ proud 30 years of service for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). The emotional farewell took place on 12 December 2019 were many servicemen and civilians alike flocked to Australian International Airshow at Avalon in 2019 from around the country and beyond to witness these proud aircraft perform their last public routine. The originally planned withdrawal date for the Pilatus PC-9/A fleet was 2008, but after a review of condition and training ability, the RAAF was able to keep the type in service until late 2019.  These aircraft hold a proud history, commissioned from Hawker de Havilland (HdH) in Stans, Switzerland where RAAF became the first customer to specify the EFIS ‘glass’ cockpit for its fleet of 67 turboprop training gliders. It was decided (at that stage) to retain the prior fleet’s orange-and-white paint scheme.

The first RAAF Pilatus PC-9/A, A23-001 first took flight on May 19 1987, followed by A23-002 in June. The Turboprop aircraft were ferried to Australia from Stans and arrived at Bankstown Airport on 16 October 1987 after a 20,239km flight. The remaining 65 aircraft were built in Australia under supervision and license by HdH, most with Australian-built major components.
RAAF pilots often refer to the aircraft as an old friend that is reliable and resilient.

The PC-9 proved to be a superb aerobatic plane that performed precise and closely choreographed manoeuvres with far less effort than is required. The PC-9/A variation with its’ signature glass cockpit is exclusive to RAAF.
During 1990 the RAAF aerobatic display team, the Roulettes, converted to fly the Pilatus PC-9/A as part of their training and displays. The aircraft were re-dressed into the signature “Roulette” all-red colour scheme and became both a distinctive sight at Australian and International Air Shows and a special part of RAAF training history.
“I’ve absolutely loved flying the PC-9/A - I’m going to miss it” comments a Flight Lieutenant of RAAF Roulettes, “It’s fast, powerful and very responsive”. “It’s easy to fly but difficult to fly well. I was super excited to be the last Roulette flying a PC-9/A.”.

Get the intel on the Pilatus PC-9/A’s up for auction HERE