Taylor Nancarrow (left) with author Gareth Kelly (right) and passengers

Courtesy Photo

Taylor Nancarrow (left) with author Gareth Kelly (right) and passengers

Helicopter Tours of Santa Barbara from a Third-Generation Pilot

Nanco Helicopters Provides Sightseeing and Special Services

Many of us have traveled by plane, and most of us no doubt grumble about long security lines, small seats, and extra fees. But traveling by helicopter? Not many of us get to do that. Helicopters’ ability to take off easily and to land in a field, or even on a boat, conjures up images of the rich and famous. Lucky for us, taking to the skies in a chopper is easier than one might think.

Founded four years ago by 27-year-old Taylor Nancarrow, Nanco Helicopters, located at Santa Barbara Airport, offers tours and other services utilizing this amazing aircraft. “I actually started flying fixed-wing airplanes when I was 13,” said Nancarrow. “I’m a third-generation pilot; both my dad and grandfather were pilots, so I’ve been around this for a very long time. My dad flew helicopters. He passed away when I was 16, [and] I always remember him talking about how he loved it so much, so I pretty much decided I’d give it a shot. I fell in love with it, and the rest is history.”

Flying in a helicopter is different than operating a standard airplane. Lower to the ground, the experience is surprisingly serene as you quietly float over vineyards, open spaces, turquoise waters, and Santa Barbara’s grand villas and estates. On our tour, we even glimpsed two great-white sharks swimming a few hundred yards off the shores of Carpinteria.

Nanco offers various trips, including a 45-minute flight to the Channel Islands, a coastal tour, and a quick city tour. Nancarrow also offers a one-of-a-kind tour where you land in the vineyard at Sanford Winery before enjoying a private tasting.

“I love flying,” said Nancarrow. “I get such a wide variety of different types of jobs, so it keeps it very interesting. It’s very multifaceted flying that I get to do, which creates a wide range of skill sets as a pilot.”

Nancarrow has seen many cool things from up high, but nothing beats his favorite: “Seeing humpback whales breach is always extremely spectacular,” he said.

Nanco also offers aerial photography, geological surveying, transportation to L.A., and even a helicopter flight school for those wanting to learn to fly themselves. For more, touch down at

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