This work presents airborne observations of sub-3 nm particles in the lower troposphere and investigates new particle formation (NPF) within an evolving boundary layer (BL). We studied particle concentrations together with supporting gas and meteorological data inside the planetary BL over a boreal forest site in Hyytiala, southern Finland. The analysed data were collected during three flight measurement campaigns: May-June 2015, August 2015 and April-May 2017, including 27 morning and 26 afternoon vertical profiles. As a platform for the instrumentation, we used a Cessna 172 aircraft. The analysed flight data were collected horizontally within a 30 km distance from SMEAR II in Hyytiala and vertically from 100 m above ground level up to 2700 m. The number concentration of 1.5-3 nm particles was observed to be, on average, the highest near the forest canopy top and to decrease with increasing altitude during the mornings of NPF event days. This indicates that the precursor vapours emitted by the forest play a key role in NPF in Hyytiala. During daytime, newly formed particles were observed to grow in size and the particle population became more homogenous within the well-mixed BL in the afternoon. During undefined days with respect to NPF, we also detected an increase in concentration of 1.5-3 nm particles in the morning but not their growth in size, which indicates an interrupted NPF process during these undefined days. Vertical mixing was typically stronger during the NPF event days than during the undefined or non-event days. The results shed light on the connection between boundary layer dynamics and NPF.