Aviation & RAAF Base

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After two years of locals waiting in anticipation and becoming very nervous that the promised relocation of the Officer Training School to East Sale would not take place, it was finally announced on the 5th August 2003 by Minister of Defense Robert Hill that the expansions of RAAF bases at East Sale and Wagga will go ahead.

Funding to be spent on the project is expected to be around $50 million.

The RAAF officer training college will be moved to East Sale. It will bring to the area 70 permanent staff and around 700 students each year.

Wellington Shire Council is now in the process of rushing through approval for rezoning of land in Sale to be sure there will be room to expand the population around the current shortage of places to build. Property prices in Sale are now expected to rise to the delight of those who have recently purchased properties.

Several major companies have been putting off decisions to relocate to Sale waiting confirmation of the RAAF base expansion, those companies are now expected to make the decision to locate in Sale with confidence.

The economic benefits to Sale are expected to be significant and may inject up to $75 million into the community over the next 10 years

The first official landing ground at Sale was based at the Sale Common. This involved filling in a large depression and building a bank to divert floodwaters. Sale’s first aerodrome was opened in 1933. The opening of the aerodrome was a spectacular event which included examples of in-flight ground message retrieval in a Westland Wapiti and an aerobatic display in an aero club Moth. Unfortunately, the aerodrome was not a success with floods in 1935 causing it to be declared unsafe.

In 1937 a new site was selected for the building of another aerodrome at West Sale, however it was not made serviceable until World War II. In 1941 Sale was declared the location for a Bombing and Gunnery school based initially at West Sale Aerodrome.

A second airfield was established at East Sale in 1943. The new military airfields at Sale increased the population dramatically, adding around 1500 people between 1940 and 1945. During the war, over 3000 servicemen were trained at Sale.

In 1945, after the war had ended, it was declared that East Sale Air Force base would remain a permanent establishment. East Sale became the training base for four schools; School of Air Navigation (1946), Central Flying School (1947), School of Photography (1952) and School of Air Traffic Control (1957). Discussions are currently taking place to determine whether or not an expansion of the East Sale RAAF Base will take place.

In 1947 part of the West Sale aerodrome was taken over by Civil Aviation. 1980 saw the remainder of West Sale Aerodrome occupied by the National Safety Council of Australia (NSCA). The NSCA was shut down in 1989. The East Gippsland Community College of Technical and Further Education (TAFE) took up residence of the NSCA buildings in 1992.

West Sale is used primarily for Civil Aviation today, it is the home of several charter businesses and flying schools and from time to time airline connecting flights to Melbourne, Sydney and Tasmania have been conducted out of West Sale.

The Roulettes

East Sale’s first aerobatic team, the Red Sales, was formed in 1962. They used four de Havilland Vampire T33 aircraft. A new team was formed using the same aircraft in 1963, they were called the Telstars.

1970 saw the introduction of the Roulettes. Initially using Macchi jets. For the first few years, the Roulettes mostly consisted of a team of four. On some occasions a fifth member was used, doing mostly solo work. Later, the team regularly performed together using such formations as “five card”, “rhombus”, “kings cross”, “leaders benefits”, “vic”, “swan five” and “line abreast”. Further formations were introduced late in 1975.

Temporarily in 1981, a seven aircraft team was established for a performance at the RAAF’s Diamond Jubilee Celebrations, performing in Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia. It was decided that the complexity, time and manpower required to maintain the seven aircraft team was not feasible and the team reverted back to five members.

The Macchi Roulettes performed their last display in June 1989.

In 1989 the Central Flying School adopted the PC9 aircraft. A few months later the team was expanded to six members because the noise from the new aircraft didn’t have as much impact. The PC9 Roulettes have gone on to perform all over Australia and Internationally.

  The official Roulettes Website can be found here