Few footballers could lay claim to flying helicopters in their spare time, but for Adelaide’s newest young rookie it was his job as much as it was his hobby.
Luke Thompson was originally from the town of Wangaratta but moved down south to Port Campbell when he was 11 after his Dad started a helicopter business.
They took scenic tours over the 12 Apostles on Victoria’s Great Ocean Road and Thompson spent a lot of time working with his father.
He was limited to groundwork as soon as football became his number one priority but he found the time to earn a private licence.
“I never got my commercial licence because footy got pretty serious I didn’t have time so I did my private licence in a couple of months,” said Thompson, who missed the last half of the TAC Cup with a shoulder injury.
“I just hit the study really hard and hit the flying hard and got that out of the way. So I’m a private pilot and I love doing that.
“Anytime Dad had time off or I had spare time from footy we’d go for a fly. So I suppose it’s something different that not many people do.”
Thompson caught the attention of Adelaide’s recruiters playing in defence for Vic Country at the national carnival.
At 192cm he is another tall utility having played on a wing and also up forward for the Geelong Falcons in the U18 competition.
He played with Patrick Dangerfield in 2008 before a more consistent year in 2009 until shoulder surgery after the championships ruled him out for the remainder of the season.
Despite missing selection at November’s national draft Thompson remained confident he would end up on an AFL list.
“I knew Adelaide were keen in the actual national draft and when that didn’t happen I thought they had picked all their talls,” he said.
“I got a phone call the day before the rookie draft and I thought if I hadn’t gone before 17 than Adelaide would take me.
“Sure enough it happened so I’m gearing myself up for Adelaide and ready to go.”
Thompson will fly over on Thursday to join the club and begin testing and some training on Friday before returning to Victoria next week for the Christmas break.
He says he is looking forward to learning the ropes from fellow Geelong Falcon Dangerfield.
“It’s good to have someone there that I know and that I played footy with; he’s doing well for himself,” Thompson said.
“When I get over there I’ll be able to learn off him and he can take me under his wings. He trains pretty hard so it’ll be good.”