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Local Nun Takes Flight

90-year-old Sister Mary Matthew Baltus took to the skies Thursday afternoon.
Sister Mary Matthew is no stranger to flying.

"I had done it as a young girl, before I entered the convent when I was in college and I took flight instruction after I entered the convent, I really couldn't take flight instruction anymore because I didn't have the money,” she says.

After years of waiting, she was back in the air on Thursday for a special flight.

Sister Mary Matthew’s 91st birthday is coming up and she's also celebrating her 70th anniversary as a Sister of Mercy.

An anonymous donor arranged the flight in a refurbished 1944 Boeing Stearman, a plane similar to the one she learned to fly on when she was just a teenager.

"She's a remarkable woman. She's an engineer and a physicist. She taught physics and mathematics at Mercyhurst for years, and was even the Academic Vice President of Mercyhurst,” says Dr. Tom Gamble, Mercyhurst University’s President.

Sister Mary Matthew had a crowd in tow to watch her take flight, including someone she's known for more than 60 years.

"She has counted on this, she's talked about it, and so when she called this morning she said this is it!” says Dr. Rebecca Chevalier, who’s been friends with Sister Mary for years.

Her brother showed her the ropes when she was young, but it's been years since she's sat in the cockpit.

A pilot controlled the plane behind her on Thursday’s flight, but Sister Mary Matthew had a front row seat to a special view of Erie.

They flew for more than 30 minutes over Presque Isle, Mercyhurst University and Sister Mary Matthew’s childhood home, leaving a trail of smoke in their path.

She said she wasn’t nervous being in the air and would do it again, if the pilot let her fly next time!

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