The Roulettes fly past the Telstra Tower and Canberra’s Black Mountain for the RAAF 100th birthday celebrations today.


GIPPSLAND’S Roulettes, the Royal Australian Air Force’s aerobatic display team, had the lead role today in honouring all those who have served in the RAAF across its 100-year history.

And they put on a stunning display of aerobatics above Canberra’s Lake Burley Griffin which was lined with onlookers at 12 noon.

Performing corkscrews, dramatic loops and close formation flying while sending out streaming vapor trails, they were easily the stars of a great aerial display featuring historic RAAF planes and helicopters and also the latest fighters including  F-35A Lightning II, EA-18G Growlers and F/A-18F Super Hornets after a ceremony at Government House.

The celebration of the 100th Anniversary of the Royal Australian Air Force also featured several pilots from the East Sale Base besides those flying the Roulettes.

During the week, and also on the RAAF’s birthday today, Minister for Defence Personnel Darren Chester, the Member for Gippsland took time out to reflect on Gippsland’s role in today’s events and also its long-time connection with the RAAF.

It is important, he said, to reflect on the service and sacrifice of all generations of Australians who have proudly worn the Air Force uniform.

“More than 350,000 Australians have served in Air Force since 1921, and more than 11,000 have died in service,” Mr Chester said.

“When Air Force was established, the fledgling service had just 149 people – aviation pioneers who had flown with the Australian Flying Corps.

“It took great courage and innovative spirit to operate the early aircraft. Back then, aviation was only two decades old.”

Mr Chester said it was a great honour attending the parade at Government House and seeing Chief of Air Force accept the new Queen’s Colour.

“We can be so proud of the fact that we have a long history of service in the East Sale RAAF base here in Gippsland. But also in securing the basic flight training the future generations of personnel will come to Gippsland, will do their training here in our region.

“To our Air Force veterans and today’s members – thank you for your service. You can be proud of what has been achieved in the first 100 years.”

Statement by Minister Chester

The Royal Australian Air Force has a proud history of service to our nation, and on 31 March 2021, it will mark 100 years.

It has a rich history of involvement in joint military operations, peacekeeping, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, and international military relationships management.

Since its establishment, bravery, resilience, innovation and teamwork have been the legacy passed on from one generation to the next, making it one of the most effective air forces in the world.

We saw these qualities when the fledging service was first established with just 149 people – aviation pioneers who had flown with the Australian Flying Corps (AFC), when aviation itself was only two decades old.

Many AFC veterans helped to lay the foundations for the RAAF, while others would enter the industry and make significant contributions to civil aviation.

The Air Force continued to exemplify bravery and resilience in the Second World War, when more than 215,000 of our Air Force men and women served in Europe, North Africa, Asia, the Pacific and across Australia.

Then in Korea, Malaya, Vietnam, UN Missions and now in the Middle East, which has been a continuous commitment of almost 20 years.

As we commemorate this milestone, it’s important to pause and acknowledge our Air Force veterans, today’s members and all the families who have supported our personnel throughout the last century.

To this day, the Air Force is always ready to serve Australia, providing immediate and responsive support and working closely with the Navy, Army and our regional and international partners.

I am privileged to see the professionalism of not only our Air Force pilots, but those who serve in the Navy and Army pursuing a career in aviation.

In the heart of my electorate is RAAF Base East Sale, where all basic flight training occurs. It is also the home to the famous Roulettes – who publicly demonstrate their impressive skills and inspire the next generation of pilots.

Globally, on any day, the Air Force has between 500 and 700 people deployed on active duty helping those in need. In the last 12 months, the men and women of the Air Force have provided crucial support to our COVID-19 response and in recovering from the devastating bushfires.

Over the last century, more than 350,000 Australians have proudly worn the Air Force uniform.

These Australians have served as part of the Australian Air Force, Women’s Auxiliary Australian Air Force, Women’s Royal Australian Air Force, Royal Australian Air Force Nursing Service and Royal Australian Air Force. We are indebted to these men and women, and should never forget all they have done.

This includes the more than 11,100 who have made the ultimate sacrifice, primarily during the Second World War where we lost some 9,870 personnel, mostly during the Allied air war conducted against Germany over Europe.

Today, the Air Force comprises almost 21,000 members, including nearly 5,000 reservists. It is culturally diverse, and every role is open to women and men alike.

This year will be an important time to reflect on the enduring contribution of the Air Force to the security of Australia. As it enters its second century and faces rapidly evolving strategic challenges, we are inspired by the talent and commitment of the next generation of Air Force men and women who carry the legacy forward.

On 31 March, and during the remaining months of 2021, a series of events will be held to honour the service and sacrifice of Air Force personnel over the last century, showcase today’s highly capable force, and foreshadow our future evolution.

I strongly encourage you to take part. To view a full list of these events, please visit the Air Force 2021 website.

Thank you for your service.