Daniel Arapakis’s first memory of being seduced by the sound of something simply amazing was when he was a little kid. He didn’t quite know what it was when he ran through the front door and on to the street with his face up to the sky, but he soon found out that the huge metal bird grinding through the clouds was something he wanted to be part of. Now 18, he still remembers running out of the house every time a plane flew overhead and the joy it gave him. When I ask him why he wanted to fly jets, his answer is: “Who doesn’t want to fly them?” Short and sweet. The problem is he’s just over 198cm, which means he can’t.
Daniel explains: “I always wanted to be in the air force and fly jets. But my legs are too long, so they wouldn’t accept me. I was gutted when I found out as I was pretty keen on combat when I was younger. But I eventually accepted it. Everything happens for a reason, as they say. Now I’m doing a Certificate IV in Aero Skills (Aircraft Maintenance) with CAE at Moorabbin airport, where I’m learning all about general aviation and maintenance and I’m really enjoying it. You train to obtain a series of licences that enable you to work on different aircraft. Not the big commercial planes. Put it like this — the licence I’m doing at the moment is the equivalent of working on a Ford or Holden. I intend to finish with as many CASA-recognised certificates to round out my licensed aircraft engineer accreditation. I will still be able to fly too. I can become a recreational pilot, which means I can fly a private jet, a Cessna or helicopter, which I will do in the future. Right now I’m happy learning the inside-outs of the machine.”
Daniel is hard to catch. This young Mornington man and former Padua student doesn’t sit still and that’s the way he likes it. In between travelling to and from Moorabbin, fishing expeditions — he’s just off to the Murray to fish with a few mates when we talk — and tinkering on his LandCruiser, this maths methods and physics natural is well-known for his success in the F3D model airplane flying arena. He’s about to head up to Byron Bay then on to Maryborough in Queensland to compete in the world championships at the end of the month with his Faster Master, designed by world-renowned model plane maker Barry Murphy. There’ll be 50 entries from across the globe competing.
He continues: “I had a series of ankle surgeries when I was a kid because I was born with this condition that made running really difficult. That meant I couldn’t play basketball, so my dad encouraged me to take up aeromodelling and I developed a thing for aviation. I’ve been flying model planes since I was 13 years old and I’ve won a few state and national championships.” He was also F3D junior world champion in 2017.
F3D class competition is apparently akin to Formula 1 in car racing. So it seems that Daniel’s need for speed continues to be fostered through his passion for flying these ultra-fast light aircraft. He concludes: “Anything to do with flying is fun. I love everything about it. They are amazing machines.”
Looks like this young aero-enthusiast has been bitten by the might of aeronautics for life. After all, who doesn’t want to fly?