Friday, June 22 , 2018, 11:55 pm | Fog/Mist 60º


Flight Plans and Path of ‘Birdman’ Earle Ovington All Over South Coast

Goleta Valley Historical Society lecture to explore legendary aviator's presence and legacy

Have you ever heard of Earle Ovington?

Ovington, for whom the Santa Barbara Airport terminal is named, was an inventor and aviation pioneer who spent much of his influential life on the South Coast.

Before moving to Santa Barbara, Ovington’s diverse career included working for Thomas Edison as an X-ray technician, earning his electrical engineering degree from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and much more. Ovington made history in 1911 as the first American air mail pilot, flying a load of 640 letters and 1,280 postcards in a mail bag.

Ovington’s local connections run deep. He operated Casa Loma Airfield, one of the South Coast’s first flying fields, now the site of Santa Barbara Golf Club, 3500 McCaw Ave. (Did you know that legendary pilots Amelia Earhart and Charles Lindbergh were known to fly into Casa Loma Airfield?) One of Ovington’s hangers was moved to Old Town Goleta and today serves as Santa Cruz Market, 5757 Hollister Ave. (Check out the historical marker on the front of the building).

In 1941, Ovington’s wife, Adelaide, purchased Cold Spring Tavern, 5995 Stagecoach Road, for $2,000 and, along with her daughter, Audrey, founded and operated the tavern for more than 60 years. It was their life’s work to preserve the restaurant and it remains in the family today. And another bit of trivia about Ovington: he was the first “commodore” of the Santa Barbara Yacht Club.

The Goleta Valley Historical Society invites you to learn more about Ovington at a lecture by Robert D. Campbell, author of Reminiscences of a Birdman. In a compelling presentation, Campbell will chronicle the exploits of the legendary pilot and aviation pioneer. In the words of the author, “He was a showman, a multienterprising entrepreneur, inventor and fearless pioneer aviator. Virtually forgotten today, Earle Ovington lived a life of which most people can only dream.”

The lecture begins at 6 p.m. Monday at the Goleta Valley Community Center, 5679 Hollister Ave. Tickets are $10 for GVHS members and $15 general admission. Click here to purchase tickets online. Reminiscences of a Birdman will be available for purchase at the lecture or in the Rancho La Patera Museum Store, 304 N. Los Carneros Road.

— Dacia Harwood is events and marketing coordinator for the Goleta Valley Historical Society, Rancho La Patera and Stow House.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Enter your email
Select your membership level

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >