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Monday, January 21 , 2019, 7:23 pm | Fair 55º


Jason Middleton Flying High After Launching Private Jet Company

The former pro runner turned pilot maintains his sense of adventure with charter service Silver Air

Air streams and weather conditions weigh heavily on pilot Jason Middleton’s mind.

Walking into the Santa Barbara offices of Silver Air, his private jet charter company, I found Middleton leaning over a computer monitor and looking at a series of small arrows indicating the direction of the wind. As a pilot, he takes into account such things to determine his flight pattern, fuel reserves and arrival times. He notes that the headwind that slowed his morning flight to Seattle dissipated before he benefited from the tailwind back to his Santa Barbara hanger.

Middleton looks like a pilot. He’s handsome, healthy and articulate. Once he puts on his sunglasses to walk to the jet, the portrait is complete.

Before his aviation career, Middleton was a professional athlete and participated in more than 150 endurance races worldwide. He began doing triathlons at age 11, competed in the Canadian Ironman at age 15 and became a professional triathlete by age 18.

Next, Middleton raced in the inaugural Eco-Challenge Expedition Race in Utah and went on to race in eight more Eco-Challenges worldwide. He also created and captained the successful and widely recognized Team EarthLink adventure racing team, garnering international notoriety. Middleton and his team were featured in the Eco-Challenge series on the Discovery Channel and USA Network.

Raised in Bakersfield, Middleton went on a few chartered flights with a family friend and loved it. Knowing his athletic career would eventually end, he attended flight school and earned his license in 1999.

“Flying uses the technical side of my brain,” he said. “I love mechanical things, as well as the hand-eye coordination component.”

Middleton is also a huge thrill-seeker, so flying has been a way to explore various places and have new experiences. In fact, he took his road bike on his last trip to Seattle and paraglided during his recent trip to Montana. His love of sports also makes Santa Barbara an ideal place to live.

“It’s an adventurist’s dream place,” he saud. “I can surf, kiteboard and cycle — it’s all here.”

Middleton says his customers choose to fly privately for four main reasons: convenience, privacy, efficiency and status. Clients can walk directly onto the plane without the hassles of security and the early check-in requirements of commercial flying. They go directly to their destination and can return whenever they’re ready.

“Many of my passengers need to get to a meeting and don’t want to lose the entire day traveling,” said Middleton, who lives in Mission Canyon with his wife and two children. “I can have them to a morning meeting in San Francisco or Seattle, and they are home early afternoon for lunch or back to the office to work.”

He took me on a tour of the sleek Cessna Citation jet. It features comfortable, intimate space inside, with spacious, camel-colored leather seats and XM Radio. Silver Air personnel keep it immaculate — something Middleton insists on to create a high-quality experience for passengers. Their planes, which seat four to six guests, are stocked with fresh newspapers and drinks, and Silver Air will arrange catering if requested by guests.

With nearly 6,000 flight hours under his belt, Middleton has been flying exclusively since his athletic retirement in 2004. He has always flown privately, working for various other charter jet companies. In 2008, he made the jump to start Silver Air. He approached several friends about investing in the company, and off they went.

Based at Atlantic Aviation, which sits adjacent to the Santa Barbara Airport, Silver Air specializes in flights west of the Rocky Mountains. Frequent trips include San Francisco, Phoenix, Mexico and Canada. Click here to learn more.

Noozhawk contributor Jenn Kennedy can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Click here to see more of her work.

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