The ‘Adventurer’ flight departs from the Santa Barbara Municipal Airport (SBA) in Goleta, California. The air journey begins at the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB). It turns up the Pacific coast at the Campus Point towards Isla Vista, a student community. It follows along the coast over the Ellwood offshore oil field, Sandpiper golf course and Bacara Spa Resort. Flying outside the developed city boundaries reveals vistas of many cultivated agriculture ranches and orchards along the 101 (1) Pacific Coastal Highway.
At the Refugio State beach the tour turns North, away from the coast and into the continental mountain ranges. Breathtaking rock formations of twists and folds lead to Ronald Reagan’s Rancho Del Cielo that is located towards the top of the range. Getting over the ridge reveals colorful and beautiful Solvang and Santa Ynez Valley.
From here the path bends to the east towards Lake Cachuma, a wilderness area in the San Rafael mountains. For about 10 next minutes the ride is pure mountain views of the wild back country – the Los Padres National Forest. With Gibraltar reservoir in sight the tour crosses the Camino Cielo Road into the foothills of Montecito and continues over many beautiful estates and golf courses. On a clear day, nearby cities of Ventura and Oxnard can be seen down the coast, which we happen to miss due to the ocean mist.
By now we are in Summerland, an area where the world’s first offshore oil well was drilled into the ocean floor. From here the path turns up the coast passing by the Coral Casino, the Four Seasons Biltmore Hotel, Montecito Country Club, Bird Refuge Lake and Cemetery. The flight continues parallel to the Cabrillo Boulevard, home to the east beach volleyball courts, the Fess Parker Hilton Resort, Wharf Pier, the Boat Harbor and the Yacht Club, City College, Leadbetter beach and Mesa Shoreline park. In the distant right are the downtown Santa Barbara, the Mission and the coastal American Riviera.
At the Arroyo Burro Beach, also called Hendry’s by the locals, we fly next to the Hope Ranch estates, turning North at Cliff Drive and Las Positas Road, flying towards Earl Warren Showgrounds and the Santa Barbara Municipal Golf Course.
From here we are on the final stretch headed for the airport over the Highway 101, where La Cumbre Plaza, Laguna Blanca lake and San Marcos High are seen.
Many many thanks to captain Taylor Nancarrow for an awesome 45-minute aerial Santa Barbara area tour on a brand new Robinson R44 Raven I chopper. Absolutely loved it, loved it, loved it!