Parachute Training School
The Parachute Training School (PTS) is a Special Operations Command unit tasked with training Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel to parachute, and to develop parachute doctrine and equipment to meet Army's future needs.
PTS has a long and proud history. The first Australian military parachute training unit was the Paratroop Training Unit (PTU), formed at Laverton, Victoria, on 3 November 1942. On 16 November 1942, PTU was relocated to Tocumwal in NSW and, subsequently, transferred to RAAF Base Richmond on 6 April 1943, where it remained until it was disbanded in 1945 at the end of World War II.
After WWII, parachute training began again in 1951 at a joint Air Force–Army Parachute Training Wing (PTW) located at Williamtown, NSW. 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.
The Red Berets
The Australian Army Parachute Display Team (The Red Berets) was formed in May 1974. Parachute Training School instruction and support staff make up the team. All are qualified military free-fall paratroopers who undergo extensive training prior to selection in the Red Berets. Many hold advanced military and civilian qualifications and compete at national and international level. Although the team is made up of Army soldiers, it is often supported by Navy, Air Force and civilian aircraft.
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.