A helicopter ride at the age of four was the beginning of Flight Lieutenant Aimee Heal’s dream to become a pilot.
As the new Roulette 7, in Air Force’s aerial display team, it’s now a dream come true.
“I’ve always wanted to be a pilot,” Flight Lieutenant Heal said.
“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.”
ADFA combines military education and training with academic study for an undergraduate degree. It provides the academic foundation, specialist education and military training for Australian Defence Force officers, including a pathway to pilot training.
Flight Lieutenant Heal studied for three years at ADFA before beginning a pilot’s course and graduating in July 2013.
“I’ve been in the Air Force for 11 years now and I love the variety of my work,” she said.
“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.
“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 at speeds of up to 685 km/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.
They 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,” Flight Lieutenant Heal said.
“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.”
Flight Lieutenant Heal said she loved flying 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.