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Great Pacific Airshow pilots hope to inspire next generation of fliers

Huntington Beach has become a hotbed for aviation fans and adrenaline junkies.

Starting Friday, civilian and military aerobatic performers will execute choreographed sequences in front of an expected crowd of 2 million people during the third Great Pacific Airshow, formerly called the Breitling Huntington Beach Airshow.

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Performers include the Air Force Thunderbirds, Jeff Boerboon’s one-of-a-kind Yak 110, a KC 135 Stratotanker and a C-17 Globemaster, along with aerobatic pilots such as Matt Chapman, Greg “Wired” Colyer, Sammy Mason and Bill Stein.

Performers said Thursday that they’re eager to showcase their unique gear and style and hope to motivate at least one person to fly.

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“Hopefully we’ll inspire the next generation of kids to become pilots and explore the world by air, which is what we’ve done and will continue to do,” said Mike Blackstone of Blackstone Airwaves.

Boerboon’s customized Yak 110 is made up of two fuselages, two propellers and one jet engine. He said the repurposed jet enables him to hover in one spot, similar to a helicopter, before zooming upward.

The air show, Boerboon said, allows him to showcase his new creation instead of leaving the two older planes “sitting in a hangar collecting dust.”

“I get to show my passion for aviation,” he said. “It gives me an opportunity where I probably wouldn’t have been invited if it wasn’t for my Yak 110.”

Thunderbirds pilot Matt Kimmel said people can expect an “emotional roller coaster” during the headlining set by the Air Force’s premier aerial demonstration squadron. The team arrived at the Los Alamitos Joint Forces Training Base on Thursday.

Kimmel, 31, said his passion for aviation began as a young boy, when he was fascinated by watching airplanes. But his drive to become a pilot was ignited by the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, he said.

The 10-year Air Force veteran and Vacaville native joined the Thunderbirds in November. He is making his Huntington Beach debut this weekend.

Kimmel said his buddies have talked about the city’s hospitality and how it’s a great area for an air show.

IF YOU GO

What: Great Pacific Airshow

When: 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday through Sunday

Where: Area of the Waterfront Beach Resort, 21100 Pacific Coast Hwy., Huntington Beach

Cost: Free, though tickets are available for upgraded viewing.

Information: pacificairshow.com

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