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Bossier CSI detective flies with Blue Angels

Navy Flight Demonstration Team, the “Blue Angels,” #7 Pilot Lt. Brandon Hempler and Bossier City Sheriff’s Detective Mike Lombardino prepare for take off before the detective’s backseat ride Wed., May 3, at Barksdale Air Force Base. Lombardino was among a handful of “key influencers” selected for the rare honor prior to the 2017 Defenders of Liberty Air Show scheduled May 5-7. The Blue Angels will serve as the lead performers for an anticipated 120,000 spectators. The Blue Angels are dedicated to representing the Navy and Marine Corps’ pride and professionalism, and to inspire a culture of excellence and service to country. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Chris Fahey/RELEASED).(Photo: Petty Officer 1st Class Chris Fa)

It’s often been said that there is nothing routine for a law enforcement officer, and every day can surely be different.  May 3 was one of those days.

Detective Mike Lombardino, a crime scene investigator with the Bossier Sheriff’s Office, traded his rig belt for a flight suit and took flight with the Navy Flight Demonstration Team, the “Blue Angels.”  It was chance of a lifetime for the life-long resident of Bossier Parish.

“Growing up here in Bossier all my life, graduating from Parkway and Centenary, seeing the F-16s fly here at Barksdale, it’s always been a dream,” said Lombardino.  “The air shows that came yearly, whether it was the Blue Angles or the Thunderbirds, it’s always been a dream.  Man, I wish I could be up there with them. I wish I could be a pilot.  Never did I ever think that I would make it to this point to where I actually get to fly one.”

Detective Lombardino, a nine-year veteran with the Bossier Sheriff’s Office and current CSI detective, was chosen to ride with the Blue Angels because of his devoted commitment to community service. The team is preparing to highlight the “Defenders of Liberty Air Show” at Barksdale Air Force Base May 6 – 7.  His performance of excellence started early when he earned the Academic Award for his academy class in in 2009.  Mike then served in Corrections, Patrol, and Financial Crimes at the Sheriff’s Office; while serving in Corrections, Mike was awarded Deputy of the Year.  In 2016, he was featured on the “Salute the Badge” segment on KTAL-6 for his outstanding support in evacuating and rescuing residents stranded by the flood of 2016 in Bossier Parish.

As a CSI detective, Mike mentors high school seniors who have chosen to focus on crime scene investigations as their senior projects, learning everything from fingerprinting to processing mock crime scenes.  “They learn a lot and realize it’s nothing like they see on television,” Mike notes.

Bossier City Sheriff’s Detective Mike Lombardino renders an enthusiastic thumbs up before his backseat ride with the Navy’s Flight Demonstration Team, the “Blue Angels,” Wed., May 3, at Barksdale Air Force Base. Lombardino was among a handful of “key influencers” selected for the rare honor prior to the 2017 Defenders of Liberty Air Show scheduled May 5-7. The Blue Angels will serve as the lead performers for an anticipated 120,000 spectators. The Blue Angels are dedicated to representing the Navy and Marine Corps’ pride and professionalism, and to inspire a culture of excellence and service to country. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Chris Fahey/RELEASED). (Photo: Petty Officer 1st Class Chris Fa)

For the past eight Christmas seasons, Mike has played “Secret Santa” to children and families in need in the community by buying Christmas gifts with his own money and putting smiles on children’s faces.

Last year when Bossier Parish experienced record flash flooding in March 2016, Mike’s neighborhood in Golden Meadows in Bossier City was impacted, and he could not of his driveway because of the flooding. He changed from his coat and tie into his waders, grabbed his ‘go-bag’, waded through water up to three feet to the main roadway where he flagged down a deputy.  “People needed help,” he thought.  He asked the deputy where the forward operating center was and said, “Take me there.”  Within minutes, Mike was assigned to high water vehicles with the LA National Guard, and he went through flooded neighborhoods rescuing and evacuating residents and their pets.

“Detective Lombardino exemplifies excellence and has an incredible work ethic,” said Bossier Sheriff Julian Whittington.  “He works diligently every day to serve and protect the residents of Bossier Parish, and I’m excited for him to get this opportunity.”
But Wednesday, May 3, 2017, was a day Detective Lombardino would soar to the highest heights…about 5,000 feet, flying hundreds of miles per hour.  The morning started with a pre-flight briefing from the “Blue Angels,” #7 Crew Chief Aviation Electronics Technician 1st Class Anthony Batronis about how to react to the tremendous force on your body in flight.  Soon after, it was time for the flight of a lifetime.

Navy Flight Demonstration Team, the “Blue Angels,” #7 Pilot Lt. Brandon Hempler briefs Bossier City Sheriff’s Detective Mike Lombardino prior to the detective’s backseat ride Wed., May 3, at Barksdale Air Force Base. Lombardino was among a handful of “key influencers” selected for the rare honor prior to the 2017 Defenders of Liberty Air Show scheduled May 5-7. The Blue Angels will serve as the lead performers for an anticipated 120,000 spectators. The Blue Angels are dedicated to representing the Navy and Marine Corps’ pride and professionalism, and to inspire a culture of excellence and service to country. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Chris Fahey/RELEASED). (Photo: Petty Officer 1st Class Chris Fa)

He rode backseat in the F/A-18 Hornet with Blue Angels #7 Pilot Lt. Brandon Hempler.  They achieved a 6 “g-force” acceleration, which meant Mike felt the pressure on his body of about six times his own weight.  He had been briefed on how to handle such pressure, but the classroom was one thing, the experience of being in the air was another thing…even flying upside down.   Did Detective Lombardino pass out?  Did he pass his cookies?  No, apparently all those roller coaster rides had adequately prepared him for the fastest ride he would even take.  When it was all over, he was speechless.

“I can’t even put it into words,” Lombardino said.  “This is what I do for a living to describe situations, and I’m at a loss of words right now.”

Navy Flight Demonstration Team, the “Blue Angels,” #7 Crew Chief Aviation Electronics Technician 1st Class Anthony Batronis escorts Bossier City Sheriff’s Detective Mike Lombardino to the Barksdale Air Force Base airstrip Wed., May 4, prior to the detective’s backseat ride in the Blues’ #7 F/A-18 Hornet. Lombardino was among a handful of “key influencers” selected for the rare honor. The Blue Angels are the 2017 Defenders of Liberty Air Show lead performers, scheduled May 5-7. More than 120,000 spectators are slated to attend. The Blue Angels are dedicated to representing the Navy and Marine Corps’ pride and professionalism, and to inspire a culture of excellence and service to country. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Chris Fahey/RELEASED). (Photo: Petty Officer 1st Class Chris Fa)

His pilot, Lt. Hempler, commended Mike for his service to the community as a law enforcement officer.  “Thanks for what you do,” he said.  “Thanks for being a key person in the community doing great things for the community.  That’s definitely part of the Blue Angels mission to inspire a culture of excellence.  Thanks for putting your life on the line every single day and making Shreveport and the surrounding area a safer place.”

As they landed, Mike came back to terra firma – solid ground – and his quick flight with the Navy’s Blue Angels gave him a new perspective on those who wear the nation’s uniform.  “Thank you for all that you do.  You keep the skies safe so I can do my job.”