The first of 51 CT4 Airtrainers arrived in Australia in January 1975 to replace the beloved Winjeel. Referred to as ‘parrots’ due to its green and yellow livery, it served as the basic training aircraft for No 1 Flying Training School out of Point Cook until it retired from service in 1992. However, from 1993, BAE Systems Australia operated a fleet of CT-4Bs out of Flight Training Tamworth, home to the ADF Basic Flying Training School. It estimates its fleet flew more than 320,000 hours and were flown by 5,000 pilots. The two-seat, single-engine aircraft’s longevity was derived because its robust materials allowed easy maintenance and repair, while it would often outperform its competitors in terms of climb, speed, endurance and payload.
To mark 27 years of operational service, 30 CT-4A and CT-4B training aircraft conducted a mass display over Tamworth in northern NSW in 2018 – something that could even have been a world record for a flypast of identical aircraft. Following a hard-fought tender contest, Defence announced in 2015 that Lockheed Martin would provide the new pilot training system at RAAF Base East Sale, Victoria and Pearce, WA using simulators and a fleet of 49 new Pilatus PC-21 aircraft.
If you want to see one for yourself, RAAF Museum at Point Cook has the very first received by the RAAF. A19-027 served as a test aircraft at Aircraft Research and Development Unit from January 1975 until October 1981.