Since the late 1970s, the Carpinteria Bluffs at Bates Road have served as a coveted launching point for free flying pilots. One of the first places in the U.S. where people flew the earliest forms of paragliders and hang gliders, it is known as the most consistent and best soaring site between San Diego and Monterrey.
This past Friday, Jan. 22, the strong winds brought a magical window for soaring. The Channel and the clouds in the mountains pulled in the South West wind and allowed pilots to fly throughout the day and into sunset. “A day like Friday was a magic day,” said Jeff Longcor, a Carpinteria resident and director at large of the Santa Barbara Soaring Association.
Longcor is a frequent flyer at Bates and Santa Barbara County’s other launching points, such as Camino Cielo Road and Elings Park. However, Longcor and his fellow flyers note that Bates is unique.
“Bates is really special because conditions for flying are consistently good; you can also fly cross country – flying over land and ocean to arrive at a different site,” Longcor said. “We can practice our craft and soar the greater mountains behind Bates and land in new places, Ventura, Fillmore and beyond.”
The Soaring Association has expressed fear that they will lose the advantageous conditions for soaring at Bates if the current design of the proposal for the Rincon Trail moves forward. While they support building the trail to connect Carpinteria Avenue to Rincon Point, they have asked the city of Carpinteria to pursue a design of the project that “is inclusive of all users (and) avoids ruining this 40-year flying site.”
A draft of the Focused Environmental Impact Report for the Rincon Trail project will be published sometime later next month, according to Nick Bobroff, principal planner for the city of Carpinteria. Following the document’s release, a meeting will be scheduled with the city’s Environmental Review Committee to review the draft document and provide a recommendation to the Planning Commission.