From far north Queensland to Newcastle and back, Innisfail local Leading Aircraftman Michael Crapella regularly finds himself back on home soil as part of Exercise High Sierra in Townsville.

Pursuing his dream as an Aircraft Technician with No. 2 Operational Conversion Unit (2OCU), Leading Aircraftman Crapella says he was lured to the Air Force by the exciting opportunities it offered, the professionalism it boasted, and a long-time love of military aircraft.

“Growing up in far north Queensland, I never thought I’d end up working on F/A-18s down in Newcastle,” Leading Aircraftman Crapella said.

“In my role, I’m responsible for the ongoing maintenance and repair of aircraft systems, including engines, flight controls, landing gear and hydraulics, as well as overseeing the ground handling of aircraft and support equipment on the flightline.”

Leading Aircraftman Crapella enjoys many of the benefits of service life, including travel and professional development opportunities.

“In the Air Force, there are always new opportunities – to travel, to be part of activities outside of our usual day-to-day roles and to expand our skills,” he said.

“In my three years with Air Force, I’ve been a part of Exercise High Sierra four times up here in Townsville, and one Exercise Diamond Storm in Darwin.

“I’ve also been part of official Anzac Day proceedings in Taree and Wagga Wagga and this year went to Mildura with one of 2OCU’s newly painted Hornets and met the families of some amazing men and women that served in WWI and WWII.

“In the Air Force, there are always new opportunities – to travel, to be part of activities outside of our usual day-to-day roles and to expand our skills.”

“I’m yet to be deployed overseas, but next year I’ll have the opportunity to go to the US to bring back 2OCU’s new F-35A aircraft.”

Away from the tools, Leading Aircraftman Crapella enjoys rugby league. He grew up playing for the Innisfail Brothers. He also enjoys clay target shooting, this year representing the Australian Defence Force at the Australian National Clay Target Championship.

Leading Aircraftman Crapella also takes time out every month to smoke enough meat for his whole unit to come down for a barbeque after work on a Friday.

Describing what he enjoys most about the Air Force, Leading Aircraftman Crapella said it was the job security, the people and the experiences he’s had along the way.

“I’ve made a lot of new mates, learnt a lot of new things and I get to work on some of the coolest, most advanced machinery in the world,” he said.

“You’re never home sick, because everyone understands how you feel – it’s almost like a whole other family that you’ve been brought into.”

Leading Aircraftman Crapella has a younger sister, Emalee, who recently joined the Army as an Artillery Command Systems Operator with No. 4 Regiment in Townsville.