Antti Aho-Mantila works as Chief Engineer in Patria’s Aerostructures business unit. He is also a multiple Finnish champion in various model aircraft categories.

What do you do here in Patria?

I am involved in several projects as a 3D CAD designer. For the last five years, I have been working as a Chief Engineer on the Airbus A400M project, in which Patria is designing and manufacturing vertical tail plane tip fairings in the Jämsä Hall. Aviation has fascinated me since I was a little boy. My career at Patria began in 2001, when I applied for an internship as part of my MSc in Mechanical Engineering at Helsinki University of Technology in Otaniemi. After my period as an intern, I continued with a summer job at Patria and was taken on full-time in the autumn. I am still following the same journey.

How did your model aircraft hobby begin?

I’ve been interested in model aircraft since the age of 10, around thirty years ago. I built my first free-flying aircraft with my father. The hobby really took off when I joined a model aircraft club as a sixth grader.  

What does this hobby involve?

Over a period of thirty years, I have been hobbying with a range of model aircraft types: aerobatics, large gliders, model aeroplanes and model jets. I have participated in national, European and World Championships in the aerobatic and model aircraft categories. In model aircraft competitions, the idea is to build an aircraft that resembles the original as closely as possible. The judges evaluate the model by comparing it to images and three-view drawings of the original, and its performance based on the flight assignments of the original. I can’t begin to count the hours I’ve spent on this. This is a hobby to savour. For example, it took a whole winter to build a Hawk Mk66 model jet. This is largely about yourself and your own goals; how much time and effort you want to devote. You need to practice daily, particularly if you are competing on a more serious basis. I have built a new model almost every year, which means more than twenty model aircraft in total. I have around five airworthy models at the moment. I’ve gradually sold models as I’ve needed to make room for new ones.

Are there synergies between your work and your hobby?

Yes. It’s easy to grasp various technical issues and I have a general understanding of the issues or parts being discussed. Ideas can’t always be directly copied just by scaling, but insights from model aircraft can point you in a certain direction during the conceptualisation phase, when considering alternative solutions, for example. Patria has allowed me to agree my summer holidays around competition trips and I’m allowed to fly model aircraft to the Halli Airport.