Childhood dream realised

Outgoing Roulette, Squadron Leader Daniel Kehoe, said he was proud and privileged to have led the Roulettes in 2016.

Outgoing Roulette, Squadron Leader Daniel Kehoe, said he was proud and privileged to have led the Roulettes in 2016.

THOSE who grew up in Sale may remember as a child looking up at the little red planes practising loops, rolls and corkscrews above their heads, and thinking how special it must be to be a Roulette pilot.

Similarly, outgoing Roulette leader, Squadron Leader Daniel Kehoe, first decided he wanted to be part of the iconic team as a child at an air show in Queensland.

"I saw all these pilots in their blue uniforms next to their red planes, and I watched them do their aerobatic display.

"I remember thinking, oh yeah, I'll have a crack at that," he laughed.

Joining the RAAF in January 1998, Sqn Ldr Kehoe steadily rose through the ranks after completing a degree at the Australian Defence Force Academy.

He completed an 18-month pilot course and flew Hercules for seven years, before becoming a flying instructor.

Sqn Ldr Kehoe has been based in Sale for the past five years, and became part of the Roulette team in 2013.

In January last year, he became the Roulettes leader, or Roulette 1, for two seasons.

The Roulettes are made up of a team of six flying instructors and a commentator, flying in seasons, with most members serving on the team for a few seasons before moving onto other duties.

Gaining an appointment to the team is a rare distinction within the RAAF, but even rarer was Sqn Ldr Kehoe's move straight from team member to leader, with most leaders appointed several years after their initial service to the Roulettes has finished.

Previously on the team as Roulette 2 and 5, Sqn Ldr Kehoe said being a team member, or "on the wing", was a quite a physical job, as the pilot was constantly striving to get into position.

"As leader, it's just a lot smoother ... you're just constantly thinking ahead of the aircraft," he said.

"There's a lot more precision in being leader."

The former Roulette was known amongst the team for his high level of motivation and creativity in forming new display sequences.

Recalling the time he first saw the Roulettes, Sqn Ldr Kehoe said he was keen to add his own touches to the season schedule.

"We try and spread ourselves out around the country the best we can with the resources we've got," he said.

"Because I was from the country, and also an air cadet, I tried to get to those out-of-the-way places, and to the kids who don't get the chance to see us.

"We called into Warrnambool on the way back from Clipsal last year, and we just took three aircraft in there and talked to the school kids.

"There was about 100 (children) from all the regional schools around there, and some of them had never actually been next to or flown in an aircraft."

Now, Sqn Ldr Kehoe works as Chief Flying Instructor at the Central Flying School, RAAF Base, East Sale, teaching Air Force and Navy pilots how to become flying instructors.

He also regularly visits other ADF flying training units to ensure training standards are upheld.

Sqn Ldr Kehoe still gets to fly a few times a day, just not as a Roulette an experience that is still somewhat surreal to him.

"It's been a privilege to be leader I look back on it and think, did that really happen?"

The Roulettes welcomed their new leader, Sqn Ldr Adam Robinson, last month.

Gippsland Senior
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