The Air Force’s newest training aircraft is receiving international attention thanks to a speed trial with one of the world’s fastest motorbike riders.
Former World Motorcycle Grand Prix Champion Wayne Gardner took to the runway at RAAF Base East Sale to test the acceleration and speed of the PC-21 over 1km.
The first trial had both vehicles at a standing start, which was Gardner’s preference, before the PC-21 was allowed “more of a rolling start”.
“I certainly won easily on the first one, but when the PC-21 had a run at me doing 600km/h it was a bit unfair then and I think he just got me,” Gardner said.
“It was very close and I was trying very hard but just a little bit short, that was all.”
The speed trial demonstrated the similarities between the RAAF and MotoGP teams – technical mastery, teamwork, professional excellence and safety.
The trial has been replayed on television stations across Australia and Europe and has been watched close to a million times on social media.
Lead Roulette Pilot Squadron Leader Jay Tuffley said he could understand why so many people were excited.
“It’s our new advanced pilot training aircraft. It can reach 370 knots, maxes out at 8G and reach heights of up to 25,000ft. It’s a state-of-the-art aircraft,” Squadron Leader Tuffley said.
Putting aside the friendly rivalry, Gardner joined Squadron Leader Tuffley in Roulette One for a short flight in a three-plane formation.
“I’ve been up in several different types of planes but I’ve never been up in a PC-21 before. What a state-of-the-art machine that is,” Gardner said.
"I love anything that’s motorised and I love planes."
Victoria’s Gippsland region is no stranger to motorbike races, but usually it’s Phillip Island that gets the attention.
The focus will return to Phillip Island in late October when the Roulettes conduct their first full-formation aerial display above the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix.
“It’ll be all six of us flying overhead, performing stunts down to 200ft. So quite low and extremely fast. I’m looking forward to it,” Squadron Leader Tuffley said.
The Roulettes transitioned to the PC-21 from the PC-9/A earlier this year and have just commenced their first public flying season in the new aircraft.
“The PC-21 aircraft and its supporting training systems will modernise RAAF aviation training and strengthen ADF pilot training capability for many years to come,” Squadron Leader Tuffley said.
Army and Navy will also conduct static displays at MotoGP 2019, reinforcing regional Victoria’s strong ADF connection as home to the birthplace of the RAAF, the Royal Australian Navy’s largest base and significant Army bases.