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New RAAF recruit is full of hot air

written by australianaviation.com.au | March 11, 2016
The new shaped Air Force Balloon flying for the first time in Australia over the Monaro countryside. (Defence)
The new shaped Air Force balloon flying for the first time in Australia near Canberra. (Defence)

The latest addition to the Royal Australian Air Force fleet prefers life in the slow lane.

And instead of having radar-avoiding stealth qualities, this aircraft has been designed to turn heads.

The RAAF on Friday unveiled a new helmet-shaped hot air balloon, complete with Air Force fighter pilot helmet, visor, oxygen mask and oxygen hose. It replaces the previous Air Force hot air balloon, which had been used for marketing and promotional purposes.

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Chief of Air Force, Air Marshal Leo Davies, AO,CSC launches the new shaped Air Force Hot Air Balloon at Defence Establishment Fairbairn in Canberra. (Defence)
Chief of Air Force, Air Marshal Leo Davies. (Defence)

“For more than 25 years, the Air Force balloon has travelled throughout Australia, inspiring an interest in aviation among young people, and promoting the professionalism of the Air Force and its personnel,” Chief of Air Force Air Marshal Leo Davies said in a statement.

“While hot air balloons are one of the oldest forms of aviation, they still attract a huge amount of interest from the general public and schools and pique a fundamental interest in science and technology.

“With the replacement of the old balloon, there was an opportunity to create a new, custom, modern design to inspire a new generation of Australians to learn about aviation and their Air Force.”

The new Air Force balloon will make its public debut at the Canberra Balloon Spectacular on Saturday at Old Parliament House. It is expected to travel to the Illawarra region and Gold Coast over the next few months.

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Defence said the new hot air balloon was designed and manufactured by UK-based company Cameron Balloons, and comprised 1,574 panels.

Chief of Air Force, Air Marshal Leo Davies and Chaplain, Squadron Leader James Cox, launch the new shaped Air Force Hot Air Balloon. (Defence)
Chief of Air Force, Air Marshal Leo Davies and Chaplain, Squadron Leader James Cox, at the launch of the new Air Force hot air balloon. (Defence)
The new shaped Air Force Balloon flying for the first time in Australia over the Monaro countryside. (Defence)
Air Force hot air balloon on its first Australian flight just outside Canberra. (Defence)
Chief of Air Force, Air Marshal Leo Davies, congratulates balloon pilot Squadron Leader Damian Gilchrist at the launch of the new shaped Air Force Hot Air Balloon at Defence Establishment Fairbairn in Canberra. (Defence)
Chief of Air Force, Air Marshal Leo Davies and balloon pilot Squadron Leader Damian Gilchrist. (Defence)
The new shaped Air Force Balloon flying for the first time in Australia over the Monaro countryside. (Defence)
The new Air Force hot air balloon prepares to take off. (Defence)

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11 Comments

  • Darren

    says:

    Love it!!

  • Sean

    says:

    Am so proud of you guys , not worthy of polishing your boots .

  • G4george

    says:

    5th generation hot air balloon

  • Greg

    says:

    The first thing I thought was Darth Vader

    Nice look.

  • mick181

    says:

    But is it stealthy, can it dogfight. Mk 1 eye ball only for ISR. Would have internal weapons carriage though (grenades in the basket) .

    Looks a great way to advertize the RAAF certainly can be seen from a long way away. Great job fellas.

  • Daryl

    says:

    Outstanding from a PR perspective.Now,if we could just get the Roulette’s into jets.

  • Alan

    says:

    Could I recommend a whole squadron ? That would frighten the crap out of any invading enemy with heap of big heads coming over the hill !!
    🙂
    Seriously…. nice work.

  • George B

    says:

    On the topic of the Roulettes: Does anyone know if the Roulettes will be getting the PC-21 or will they keep their PC-9s?

  • ULISES VELEZ

    says:

    RAAF ALWAYS IN THE EDGE OF TECHNOLOGY.

  • mick181

    says:

    I have heard that the Roulettes will be flying PC-21s out of the pool of 49 ac as i believe they do with the PC-9s.

  • Taurean Lea

    says:

    I would love to see the RAAF Balloon fly over Brisbane!!!

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