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AIRSHOW: Abbotsford cop gets the ride of her lifetime with the Blue Angels

Const. Mary Boonstra chosen for flight preceding Abbotsford Airshow

Const. Mary Boonstra got a break from her blue uniform Wednesday to take a once-in-a-lifetime trip to the great blue yonder with the Blue Angels.

Nominated for a flight in one of the U.S. Navy aerobatics troupe’s F-18 Hornets for her work in the community, Boonstra looked nervous going into the flight. But she beamed as she exited the jet – albeit a little light-headed and with a little less substance in her stomach.

“I did, lots,” Boonstra said when asked if she vomited during the flight, “but that’s OK. A little bit. It was when we did the barrel rolls, that was when it went a little south.

“But that’s OK. It was beautiful and Andre was wonderful,” she added of her pilot, Lt. Andre Webb, with whom she exchanged gifts and a hug following the flight. After he offered her a framed photo signed by Blue Angels crew members, she returned the favour with a utility knife and an Abbotsford Police Department challenge coin.

Boonstra’s flight took her down to Mount Baker, where a pilot with the Blue Angels performed some of the troupe’s aerobatics for the officer.

“We went upside down, fast turning, pulled lots of G. I think the most was seven,” Boonstra said, referring to the G-force, or gravitational force, incurred on an occupant in a jet as it pulls tight manoeuvres. Seven G means seven times the force of gravity was being exerted on Boonstra.

“I’m a little light-headed … but, yeah, it was an awesome experience, an awesome time. What an opportunity,” Boonstra said, adding a message to those who nominated her for the ride.

“Thank you so much. That was really sweet that they thought of me for this opportunity.”

Ahead of the flight, Blue Angels crew chief Anthony Batronis said the flight is often a life-changing moment for passengers lucky enough to get into one of their machines.

“Absolutely. I would hope so, yeah. Just showing them the capabilities of the F-18 Hornet, and it’s a pretty good aircraft, so every time they come back they’ve had a lot of fun,” he said.

“It’s all relative, I guess. If people don’t like roller-coasters, it’s a pretty cool roller-coaster. But people who like roller-coasters, that could ruin it (roller-coasters) for you.”

The Blue Angels are in Abbotsford for the annual air show at the Abbotsford International Airport, marking their first performance in the city since 2003.

The troupe has been flying around the city since early this week, and will be performing for crowds on Friday at 4:30 p.m. and on Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m.

For more information on the air show, a schedule of events and to see other attractions coming to the show, visit the Abbotsford International Airshow website.

Const. Mary Boonstra with the Abbotsford Police Department gets unstrapped after the flight of her lifetime – a 45-minute journey in a Blue Angels F-18 Hornet. The flight took her across the border to Mount Baker, where the jet performed some of its aerial tricks for Boonstra. Dustin Godfrey/Abbotsford News
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