The “Telstars” were an aerobatic display team in the Royal Australian Air Force.
The team was formed in February 1963 from the Central Flying School in East Sale, Victoria. The team flew four De Havilland Vampire T.35 jet trainers equipped with white, blue and red smoke generators.
As soon as the initial shock of the Red Sales accident (in August 1962) Group Captain Herbert Clarence Plenty DFC+Bar was given the task of re-raising the team, which he did, and they were named the TELSTARS. Wing Commander Plenty announced CFS (Central Flying School) was going to form a new aerobatic team as part of a confidence building process. His intention was to resume operations and demonstrate that aircraft were flown to their maximum. A new formation team was worked on to demonstrate a high level of professionalism at CSF while simultaneously setting and maintaining RAAF flying at the highest of standards.
The first Telstars aerobatic team consisted of Flt Lts Pete Scully, JF Mayne, Ron R Croft and their leader Wing Commander Herb Plenty.
Six months after the Red Sales crash Wing Commander Plenty led the team on their first display on 28 February 1963 at the graduation parade of No24 Basic Navigators Course at RAAF East Sale. He then handed over the leadership of the team to CSF chief flying instructor Sqn Ldr Lyall Klaffer.
Ron Croft resigned from the RAAF and went to train pilots with QANTAS. Maurie Baston came into the team when he returned from a posting at Butterworth. There were a number of changes to the pilot members because of postings and resignations.
“The naming of the team was approached in a serious but enthusiastic way. The soundtrack of Telstar was merged with roaring sound of the exhaust of the Vampire engines. Quite unique and really an exciting reflection of those amazing young fliers. The Vampire was truly a machine that the pilots really flew – there was minimal automatic intervention. Planning was thorough but as you would recognise trust in each other and flying skill played a huge part in the success of the team. - info by Sheila Pfeffer"
In February 1968, the Telstars aerobatic team performed for the first time with a new aircraft, the Italian-designed Aermacchi MB 326H jet trainer, more commonly known simply as the “Macchi”. However, the Telstars only flew with this new aircraft until April 1968, when the team was disbanded due to an overall Air Force-wide reduction in display flying.
Thanks to John Plenty - son of Group Captain Herbert Clarence Plenty