The mission of PTS is to train members of the ADF and other authorised personnel to parachute, and to develop parachute doctrine and equipment to meet Army's needs, now and in the future.
PTS conducts a wide range of training including:
Static Line - typically used for massed insertion; it involves paratroopers hooking onto a strong point in the aircraft, jumping from altitudes between 800 and 1000 ft and descending under a symmetrical canopy onto land or into water.
Military Free Fall - normally involves highly-qualified paratroopers exiting from an aircraft at up to 12,000ft and going into free fall in a team formation before opening their own parachutes at a designated altitude then flying as a team to a target.
High Altitude Parachute Operations - involve teams descending with oxygen from up to 25,000 ft.
The School maintains one of the best safety records in the world with close to 500,000 descents without a student fatality.
Military parachuting is open to all Corps’ soldiers with a demonstrable requirement in a parachute unit or parachute role. The Parachute Training School employs instructors from these backgrounds and members of the following specialist Army trades:
• Parachute Rigger
• Air Dispatcher
• Special Air Service Trooper
• Special Operations Engineer Regiment Sapper
The first military parachute training unit in Australia was the Paratroop Training Unit (PTU), formed at Laverton in Victoria on 3 November 1942. On 16 November 1942 PTU was relocated to Tocumwal in NSW. PTU was subsequently transferred to RAAF Base Richmond on 6 April 1943 until it was disbanded at the end of WWII, in 1945.
After WWII, parachute training began in 1951 at a joint Air Force-Army Parachute Training Wing (PTW) located at Williamtown. In 1958, PTW was re-designated Parachute Training Flight and organised under the Air Support Unit. In 1974 responsibility for parachute training passed to the Army and the Parachute Training School (PTS) was formed at Williamtown. In 1986, PTS moved to purpose-built facilities in Nowra as a lodger unit of the Naval Air Station at HMAS Albatross.
PTS is now responsible for all individual parachute training in the Australian Defence Force (ADF). In addition to its training role, PTS supports parachute units’ activities around Australia, trials and develops new equipment.
The Australian Army Parachute Display Team (The Red Berets) was formed in May 1974. The team's members are drawn from instructional and support staff at the Parachute Training School. They are all qualified military freefall paratroopers who undergo extensive training prior to selection in the display team. Many hold advanced military and civilian qualifications and compete at national and international level. Although the team is made up of Army members, it is often supported by aircraft from both the Navy and Air Force.
The Red Berets provide displays around Australia, demonstrating the skills that reside at the Parachute Training School by exiting from the aircraft, developing a team formation and landing together with pin-point accuracy with flags flying and smoke billowing. The skills on show reflect the operational requirement of a team insertion into a small area by stealth. The display provides a limited insight into ADF airborne operations while demonstrating the military skill and discipline required to operate as a team in a high risk environment.