Flying Destinations: Santa Ynez


Day in Solvang

When I think of Santa Ynez (IZA), the first thing that comes to mind is the Chumash Casino. The advertisements on TV were so frequently aired that one couldn’t think about Santa Ynez without thinking about the Chumash Casino. But back in 2001 though, the casino was non-existent, so Solvang was foremost in mind when thinking about Santa Ynez.

Roughly a month after I got my PPL, I planned my first cross country as a pilot: to none other than Santa Ynez. A short flight, not quite 50nm, one I could easy trace following Highway 101 without getting lost. If you can imagine flying in a C152 with single nav/com, no GPS onboard or hand held, no smart phone, and a newly minted pilot, you will understand how important it was not to get lost 😊.

Although I had been doing some flying locally, it was time to spread my wings farther to new airports in search of new adventures. The plan was simple: fly to IZA and spend the day in Solvang. Just barely five miles from IZA, Solvang is a Danish village located in Santa Ynez Valley. Founded in 1911 by a group of Danes, it is home to bakeries, restaurants, and merchants offering a taste of Denmark. Many of the buildings reflect Danish architecture. But even before the Danish arrived, Santa Ynez Valley was originally inhabited by the Chumash, an ingenious and industrious people. Mission Santa Ines served as a gateway for the Chumash Indians.

Photo courtesy Nicole Kraus.

As I made my plans, my only thought was to get there safely. I forgot totally to plan for the other logistics on getting to/from Solvang or even the return flight. One goal at a time, right?

The inbound flight to IZA went without hitch. After all, I was used to driving up and down the coast of CA on 101 so often, that flying a couple of thousand feet and following it seemed a piece of cake. Goal 1 achieved. As it happened I needn’t have worried about the rest. Checking in at the FBO, I ran into a pilot and when he heard my plan was to head out to Solvang, offered me a ride since he was headed that way anyway!

There is a lot to do in Solvang. Wander the avenues, shopping nooks, and walkways, or rent bikes to ride along the streets. Checkout the Santa Inez Mission, Hans Christian Anderson Museum, replica of the Round Tower from Copenhagen, windmills, Danish architecture and so much more. Relish the traditional Danish treats and gourmet food at sidewalk cafes and restaurants.

After a fun filled day, I took a cab ride back to the airport and flew back home with the experience of my first solo cross-country flight as a PPL under my belt and a boost in confidence to plan more adventures!

See Also:
Solvang, CA
City of Solvang