NICK Maddocks was piloting a glider in the sky above Boonah before most kids had even qualified for their learner driver's permit.
It is not surprising then that the 22-year-old is now representing Australia in the sport that is as foreign to most of his countrymen as winter Olympic curling.
Competitive gliding is a sport where champions are one-part chess master and one-part meteorologist.
Maddocks, who took his first solo flight at the raw age of 15, has recently returned from Germany where he took part in his first Junior World Gliding Championships.
While his results weren't all that he hoped for, he said the experience will position him well for future events.
"Germany was interesting," he said. "Conditions were very different to what we're used to here."
The cooler temperatures and greener landscape of the European venue meant Australian team members had to deal with poor conditions and far less lift than they were used to.
"The event was held around the Black Forest in Germany," Maddocks said.
"It's got a history of poor weather and unfortunately we spent the first five days of the competition watching rain and storms going past."
In the end, Maddocks flew only five days of the scheduled two-week event and never managed to find his feet, finishing at the tail of the field.
"Home advantage is critical in gliding," he said.
"The local guys handled the conditions the best and were always going to be hard to beat."
Maddocks is the 2011-12 QT City of Ipswich senior sport star for October.
The 2010-11 award winners celebrated their achievements at last Friday night's function.
The 2011-12 junior winner for October will be named soon.
The disappointment of Germany hasn't dimmed Maddocks' determination to succeed at the graceful sport.
The university student will now balance his architecture study with his training as he aims at an improved performance in Poland in two years.
"We'll be out at the airfield every weekend doing four to five-hour flights each day," he said. "We also spend a fair bit of time studying conditions.
"I'll probably spend the next couple of years fully immersed in my sport."
But there may be one change for Maddocks when the next world titles arrive.
With the introduction of a new two-seater class at the event, Nick is planning to join his father Mike for an assault on the pairs title.
"Next year is the first selection year for the two-seater class at the worlds," he said.
"Dad and I plan to fly our first competition event in January."
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.