11 Jun 2019

Hitting the high notes: gold medal aeromodeller Donatas Pauzuolis

“In any contest my main rival is always myself!”

Lithuanian aeromodeller Donatas Pauzuolis certainly rises to the challenge he sets himself. His passion and dedication to AFM – Aerobatics Flying to Music – recently won him a gold medal in this new class at the recent 2019 FAI F3P World Championship for Indoor Aerobatic Model Aircraft in Heraklion, Crete.

The AFM class was newly introduced to this year’s competition, and has only been featured before at the World Air Games, Dubai and a handful of Open International Events. The intricate manoeuvres of the aircraft are executed perfectly in time with the music and make a great spectator sport, which is sure to keep rising in popularity with skilled pilots like Donatas showcasing their talents.

Donatas first took up the sport at the age of 11, having been inspired by his father, who also coached and mentored several other young aeromodellers who have gone on to gain World Championship titles.

Donatas and father

“My father is always beside me, no matter what”

Since discovering his particular talent for AFM, Donatas especially enjoys the creative freedom it offers:

“Aeromusical was always the most important class for me. F3P-AFM rules allow everyone to shows all their skills and creativity without holding anything back. Our flights last just 2 minutes (+-5s) but selecting the music and the flight schedule’s composition often takes several months. I try to find music all the time: during holidays, at work, or even whilst driving!”

Once Donatas finds a potential piece of music, he then considers suitable manoeuvres and tests them on a PC simulator. The hardest job is improving standards for each new competition. He says:

“You just need to get better and better every year. I know that in any contest I compete my main rival is always myself. If I do my homework well, any competition is a pleasant experience.”

Doing his homework is evidently something Donatas takes seriously:

“I usually ‘keep my hands warm’ during indoor season by practicing one to two times per week. Two weeks before a contest I practice each day for 2-3 hours, ideally with two shorter flying sessions - one in the morning and second one in the evening.”

This dedication to practice has clearly paid off:

“Victory in Greece was very sweet and rewarding. Together with previous winnings in the World Air Games 2009 and 2015, this achievement highlights my 23-year aeromodelling career.”

Donatas is part of the Lithuanian team, who ranked 4th in the F3P World Championships this year, their best result to date.

Lithuanian aeromodelling team 2019

Donatas (centre) alongside his Lithuanian team-mates Zilvinas (left) and Paulius (right)

Certainly a pilot to watch out for as the AFM class builds momentum and popularity, Donatas hopes that the combination of flight to music will attract new attention to the sport, from participants, spectators, sponsors and the media.

The new aeromodelling season will begin in November 2019; watch this space for events news and to follow Donatas' continued success.

Image credits: Donatas Pauzuolis and Esa Eirola (Header image)