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The Roulettes aerobatic team comprises Qualified Flying Instructors (QFI) from Central Flying School (CFS), RAAF Base East Sale, Victoria. Sale is situated approximately 200km to the east of Melbourne in Gippsland. RAAF Base East Sale forms part of the Air Training Wing and hosts CFS, the School of Air Traffic Control, School of Air Navigation, No 32 Squadron and Technical and Logistics Management Squadron.
The role of Central Flying School is to train Australian Defence Force pilots as Flying Instructors and to maintain the standards of flying instruction throughout the Air Force. Apart from Roulette Seven, who is the CFS operations officer, all the team members are QFIs and this is their primary duty.
During the show they usually fly at speeds up to 460km/h and, occasionally, 590km/h, depending on the manoeuvre.
All aircraft may ‘pull’ up to 4.5 ‘G’ with Roulette 5 pulling as much as 6 G.
The show can be very demanding on the pilots, particularly in warm conditions. Although the show only runs for 15 minutes or so, during this period a high level of concentration and determined effort are required.
There is a considerable amount of training required before a pilot is considered ‘safe solo’ for Roulette routines. At first a pilot will become competent in two-plane aerobatics consisting of loops and barrel rolls in echelon and line-astern formations. Once comfortable with these positions, the pilot will then move to line abreast, a considerably more difficult station to maintain.
To maintain position a pilot must firstly line up visual cues on the lead aircraft, then adjust power and flight controls to keep those cues steady. This requires a lot of constant, minute adjustments. Obviously the harsher the lead aircraft manoeuvres, the more difficult it is for the wingman to stay in position. To aid the wingman, the leader will make calls on the radio to prompt the wingman on the next manoeuvre.
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