A helicopter ride in Bundaberg when aged just four was the beginning of FLTLT Aimee Heal’s dream to become a pilot. As the new Roulette 7, Air Force’s aerial display team, it's a dream come true.
“I’ve always wanted to be a pilot,” said FLTLT Heal.
“We used to visit the air show in Bundaberg and one time at the ArgoTrend agricultural and farming show, my dad took me for a helicopter ride – I loved it!”
“During high school, I realised the Air Force was a way for me to achieve my flying dream so I applied to study at the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA) in Canberra when I finished Year 12.” she said.
The Australian Defence Force Academy combines military education and training with academic study for an undergraduate degree.
The Academy provides the academic foundation, specialist education and military training for Australian Defence Force Officers, including a pathway to pilot training.
FLTLT Heal studied for three years at ADFA before beginning a pilot’s course and then graduating as a pilot in July 2013.
Aimee's dream to become a Roulette comes true
“I’ve been in the Air Force for 11 years now and I love the variety of my work – so far I’ve flown King Air 350s, KC-30s and since January this year I’ve been flying PC-21s with our aerobatic display team, the Roulettes,” said FLTLT Heal.
“The Roulettes consists of seven pilots and we fly all around Australia to showcase a variety of manoeuvres in low-level formations.”
The Roulettes fly as low as 250 feet (80 m) at speeds of up to 685km/h and pilots can experience up to 6G – 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, like FLTLT Heal, are based at the Central Flying School (CFS) at RAAF Base East Sale in Victoria.
“As Roulette 7, my role is to reduce the workload of Roulettes 1-6 to allow them to concentrate on flying,” said FLTLT Heal.
“I coordinate displays and public affairs activities with event organisers on behalf of the Roulette team and liaise with the Roulette Leader to ensure all events run efficiently.
“I also fly the spare aircraft to the event airfields and conduct any other flying CFS requires.”
FLTLT Heal’s favourite parts so far of being Roulette 7 are flying the new PC-21 aircraft – one of the most advanced training aircraft in the world – talking to aspiring aviators; and giving the public the chance to understand what it’s like to be an Air Force pilot.
By Flying Officer Claire Burnet
- RAAF news