Royal Treats on the Ground and in the Air
Port Macquarie was in for a treat on Sunday 18th April 2021. As part of Port Macquarie's bicentenary 2021 celebrations and the Hastings District Flying Club Open Day, the Royal Australian Air Force Roulettes were at the HDFC new hangar displaying their Pilatus PC-21 aircraft and signing autographs. The Pilatus PC-21 is one of the most advanced training aircraft in the world.
At 5 pm, the Roulettes, Royal Australian Air Force's aerobatic display team, flew over Town Green with bated breath to see these amazing pilots take to the skies and perform jaw-dropping aerobatics that consist of a number of manoeuvres flown in various formations at low level. They are an extension of formation, aerobatics, low level flying, and airmanship skills, taught to Air Force pilots and developed throughout their career.
The Roulettes fly as low as 250 feet (80 m) at speeds of up to 370 knots to 685km/h and pilots can experience up to 6 ‘G', or 6 times, the force of gravity during a display. Flying as close as three metres apart, the team showcases the level of visual judgement and hand-eye coordination that pilots in the Air Force are able to achieve.
Roulette pilots are Qualified Flying Instructors who work at the Central Flying School, based at RAAF Base East Sale in Victoria. Between displays, they teach other Air Force pilots to become instructors.
Photos by Veronica Lind
Meet the seven Roulettes
We got to meet all seven Roulettes from left to right: Lachie Hazeldine, Ben Hepworth, Squadron Leader Jamie Braden, Nathan Stankevicius, Daniel Barclay, Mark Keritz and Aimee Heal.
Roulette Squardron Leader SQNLDR Jamie Braden has over 5000 hours flying time! Jamie grew up in the Yarra Valley in Victoria and began flying when he was 16 years old.
Roulette 2 FLTLT Nathan Stankevicius grew up in Brisbane, QLD and was fascinated with all things aviation from as early as he can remember. This is his very first season with the Roulettes.
Roulette 3 FLTLT Daniel Barclay grew up in Caloundra on the Sunshine Coast, QLD. He began flying ultralights at the age of 14 out of Caloundra Airport, where he first developed a passion for flying.
Roulette 4 FLTLT Ben Hepworth grew up in Hobart, Tasmania and began flying at age of 16. This is also Ben's first season with the Roulettes.
Roulette 5 FLTLT Lachie Hazeldine grew up in Korumburra, Victoria and joined the RAAF in 2001 completing a degree in Aviation Technology at the Australian Defence Force Academy.
Roulette 6 FLTLT Mark Keritz grew up in Vermont South, Victoria and began flying at age of 16.
Roulette 7 FLTLT Aimee Heal is the team’s youngest and only female Roulette. Aimee grew up in Bundaberg, Queensland. She starting flying at the local aero club at 16 years old.
The Roulettes had some lovely chats with the audience and also signed merchandise. The Roulettes definitely stole more than a few hearts that day with their performance and inspired children and youths to get curious about flying.