The Roulettes are the current Royal Australian Air Force aerobatic display team.
The team has seven PC-9/A aircraft but demonstrations are flown with only six aircraft. The seventh aircraft is a spare aircraft and it is flown by the team's public relations officer. The public relations officer is also responsible for team's administration and for videotaping each demonstration for later analysis. The Roulettes aircraft carrying numbers 5 and 6 are known as the "synchro pair".
The team pilots are drawn from instructors at the Central Flying School at East Sale, Victoria. Each new pilot begins with three months of intensive formation aerobatic training, starting with relatively simple maneuvers (such as loops and rolls in echelon or line-astern formations) which are performed at altitude, and progressing through more complex and demanding ones in close formation line-abreast aerobatics, and eventually working up to the full six-aircraft display routines. Only when a routine is well-practiced at altitude is it brought down in gradual steps to the minimum safe level of 500 feet (150 m). First season pilots fly as Roulettes # 2, 3 or 4, while the more experienced pilots fly as Roulettes # 5 and 6. After approximately 70 flights in the full six-plane formation, a new pilot will be considered ready for his first demonstration in public. The team's ground staff is drawn from the maintenance staff of the Central Flying School.
The Roulettes perform two different kinds of demonstrations depending on the atmospheric weather conditions. If weather is bad, they perform a demonstration which lasts only 12 minutes and includes a limited number of low-altitude aerobatic maneuvers. If the weather is clear, they will perform their full demonstration which lasts 15 minutes and includes 18 aerobatic maneuvers performed at a separation distance of less than 3 meters from aircraft to aircraft. The normal load factor during a demonstration is 4 to 5 Gs but, during some individual maneuvers, the load factor can be up to 6 Gs.
The team aircraft differ from the normal training aircraft in their overall colour scheme (white and red), the letter "R" is painted on the vertical stabilizer, and by the presence of a smoke generator which releases white smoke. Unlike the smoke generators used on jet aircraft, on this system fuel, which is injected at the end of the engine's exhaust pipe, is used to generate the smoke.
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