13 Feb 2019

Aeromodelling: double 2018 FAI champion Arijan Hucaljuk shares his tips for success

With three podium places in three different events, it’s safe to say 2018 was a good year for Croatian aeromodelling pilot Arijan Hucaljuk.

The talented young aeromodeller won both the FAI F3J World Championship for Model Gliders and the FAI F5 European Championships for Electric Model Aircraft, and came second in the FAI F3K European Championship for Model Gliders.

It’s a fantastic achievement, especially as each event falls into a different soaring class. We caught up with Hucaljuk, 26, to find out more about his approach.

When did you start aeromodelling?

My father started taking my brother and me to a local sports airfield from a very young age. That is where I found out about flying and aeromodelling. I began flying simple free-flight gliders when I was just 4 years old, and moved on to bigger and more sophisticated models as I got older.

How long after did you get into competitions?

I have been on and around airfields since “forever”! And I got into competitions when I was 8 years old.

What do you love about aeromodelling? 

I am fascinated by freedom. I also love searching for thermals that help us to stay longer in the air but are not visible. Landing, when it is important to be precise and get the timing right, is also exciting. 

You compete in several different classes - how do you manage to excel in them all?

In all the three categories I compete in (F3J, F5J, and F3K), the main task is the same: finding thermals to allow you to stay in the air. Flying many different types of models since being a kid also helps me to adapt quickly to different categories. F3J is the first category I competed in and is the category in which learned everything I know about flying, so if I had to pick one that would be it.

You had some great wins in 2018. What's the secret to your success?

In my early years of aeromodelling, I spent lots of time on the airfield trying out new techniques and approaches that I hoped would give me the edge over the competition. The fact there are so many great pilots who are constantly improving also motivates me to keep progressing and getting better.  

What are your plans for 2019 (and beyond)?

When you are competing, the goal is always the same, but there are no guarantees. Personally, it is more important to have fun and be satisfied with my personal performance than to have great results.

What do you do when you are not being a pilot?

I live in Slavonski Brod, Croatia, where I have used my masters degree in computer science to set up my own company, which is related to aeromodelling and flying. It’s fantastic being able to work on something you love.

What would your advice be to someone keen to get into competitive aeromodelling?

I would tell them not to give up and to keep pursuing their goals; eventually you will get there. As the quality of the competition in aeromodelling is very high, I would also tell them they are going to need time, will power and patience to be successful. 

Photo credit: Arijan Hucaljuk