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Saying hello to Parksville at 1,100 km-h

Kwalikum Secondary School grad, RCAF Master Cpl. Craig Boyd, was in one of the F-18s that did a fly-by over Parksville’s beach Thursday on route to Comox from Cold Lake, Alta. Piloting Boyd’s jet was Major Yannick Gregoire while the other F-18 was piloted by Captain Adam Runge. - JOHN HARDING PHOTO
Kwalikum Secondary School grad, RCAF Master Cpl. Craig Boyd, was in one of the F-18s that did a fly-by over Parksville’s beach Thursday on route to Comox from Cold Lake, Alta. Piloting Boyd’s jet was Major Yannick Gregoire while the other F-18 was piloted by Captain Adam Runge.
— image credit: JOHN HARDING PHOTO

Master Corporal Craig Boyd got a unique look at his hometown last week.

Sitting in a CF-18 Royal Canadian Air Force fighter jet, Boyd convinced pilot Major Yannick Gregoire to take a small detour on the way to Comox from their base in Cold Lake, Alta. Those who were fortunate enough to be at Parksville's Community Park got to see a pair of CF-18s fly right over the beach, take a turn and come by once again.

"It definitely was interesting from where I was sitting," said Boyd, a graduate of Kwalikum Secondary School and a member of the RCAF since 2006. "I lived there forever but I was barely able to recognize it."

Boyd is a mechanic with the RCAF based in Cold Lake. He doesn't often get to fly in the jets he works on.

They made the trip from Cold Lake to Comox on Thursday in about 80 minutes, averaging a speed of 600 knots (about 1,100 km-h).

“That was only the second time in my life (he flew in a CF-18),” said Boyd. “It was amazing. It’s definitely hard on the system — when I got out of the jet, my body was done.”

A pair of people on the beach Thursday had more than a passing interest in the F-18s soaring above, Craig’s parents Brenda and Greg.

“I’m a pretty proud mama — it was spectacular” said Brenda, who went to Comox later to meet up with her son and see the jets. “And it was also really great to see him do his job, up close.”

Master Corporal Craig said family played a big role in his career-path decision. Brenda’s family has a long history in the RCAF. And it was Craig’s uncle Leo who convinced Craig to enlist.

“I’m trying to keep that (family tradition) going,” said Craig. “And it’s a really awesome job.”

Craig went to BCIT after graduating KSS and took automotive mechanic classes. He was in Chilliwack living with uncle Leo doing practicums at auto dealers when he decided he would shift his focus from working on ground vehicles to planes.

“I like working on cars,  but the old saying is, don’t make your hobby your career,” said Craig, who said he doesn’t see himself leaving the RCAF any time soon.

“I love it — I will be in for the long haul,” he said. “I couldn’t see myself doing anything else.”

Craig’s job — he’s an air frame tech and in charge of a crew that works on the F-18s — has taken him to Las Vegas, Key West Florida and the arctic, among other places. He admits there are some things about working with the RCAF that may be different from the private sector. “There are definitely certain sides of my job I can’t even talk about.”

And what about living in Cold Lake?

“I love it there,” said Craig, who will be returning to Parksville Qualicum Beach in the summer to get married to Lauren, a massage therapist he met in Cold Lake. “There are very few places where I can drive my quad from my property right to some trails. If I did that in Qualicum Beach, I’d be getting a talking to.”

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