Birdman Flies Again

Developed Samarkand Neighborhood

If you’ve ever wondered who Earle Ovington — the man the airport terminal is named after — is, or even if you haven’t, you can learn a tremendous amount about this remarkable individual from the recently released book Reminiscences of a Birdman.

The book’s author, Robert D. Campbell, hosted by the Goleta Valley Historical Society, will talk about Ovington—pioneer aviator, amateur photographer, entrepreneur, motorcyclist, electrical engineer, yachtsman, bacteriologist, lecturer, inventor, airplane designer, land developer, husband, and father—at the Goleta Valley Community Center on Monday evening, April 19.

Ovington lived on the South Coast in the latter part of his multifaceted life, and, among other endeavors, was an aviation leader locally and nationally in the first few decades of the 1900s. The accomplished Ovington lived in Chicago, New York City, and Newton, Mass., before moving here with his wife, Adelaide, daughter Audrey, and son Kester in 1923.

Campbell will highlight the lasting impressions Ovington left on the community, including his development of the Samarkand neighborhood. The legendary aviator (also considered the first air mail pilot in the country) created the first privately owned and operated “flying field” in Santa Barbara, complete with a 1,500-foot runway, on the current site of the municipal golf course on McCaw Avenue. In fact, legendary pilots Amelia Earhart and Charles Lindbergh were known to come and go from Casa Loma Air Field.

Campbell will also reveal how Ovington became known as “The Birdman.”

Reminiscences of a Birdman, an impressive 436-page volume published by Living History Press, is packed with photos and illustrations as well as carefully researched details of Ovington’s life, work, and play. Campbell has documented his lifetime of adventures, inventions, and projects carefully and meticulously.

Copies of Reminiscences of a Birdman are available at the gift shop at Rancho La Patera, 304 N. Los Carneros Rd.


Campbell will speak on April 19, 6 p.m., at the Goleta Valley Community Center. For additional information and tickets to the event, go to the Stow House Web site.


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