San Diego Sky Tours
San Diego Sky Tours is a veteran owned / run business built to promote aviation in our community and share San Diego's sites and rich history with the public. Our pilots love to fly these tours in San Diego and it shows itself to our passengers. James Kapenas, Erich Moulder, Steve Donnelly, Earl Wederbrook, Bob Ambler and Phil Kendro are our tour pilots . They look forward to meeting you and sharing a flying adventure.
San Diego Sky Tours was founded in 2009 at Montgomery Field with a single Cessna 206 and a great business idea. With beautiful San Diego Bay, the surreal ocean and sunset views, our city makes the perfect site for an aerial tour company. James Kapenas and Ryan Poortinga started the company as part of Ryan's college business plan competion at San Diego State University. They received stellar accolades for their hard work and business plan. Ryan left for commissioning in the Air Force and now serves as a commissioned officer.
Erich Moulder became a partner in 2011. He brought his knowledge and skill with aerobatic biplane aircraft to San Diego Sky Tours. Jim and Erich added Biplanes to the company and Sky Tours FAA Letter of Authorization. The Biplane Tours and Bay Tours were now part of the offerings increasing our tour portfolio and doubling our tour revenue. Soon after development of an aerobatic program, San Diego Sky Tours offered Aerobatic thrill rides. Soon after, they developed an Upset Recovery Training course and Tail Wheel training program for certificated pilots.
The San Diego Sky Tours hangar. Our team started restoring the 1940's 'Spiders' Quonset hut in March of 2015. Community volunteers, Navy personnel from the USS Ronald Reagan and Sea Cadets, helped San Diego Sky Tours restore this vintage hangar. The restored hangar would house our 3 tour aircraft, provide an informative museum like setting for passengers and aviation enthusiasts and partnership opportunities with San Diego Air & Space Museum. Sky Tours completed the hangar in August 2015 and awaited the Airport Authorities to grant approval as promised. Due to Airport Management and a new Deputy Director of Airports, the newly restored historic facility was unexpectedly condemned for demolition. San Diego Sky Tours was forced to leave, the doors locked and art work painted over. For details of our restoration project click here.
In 2015, San Diego Sky Tours purchased their 2nd Biplane for the use. This aircraft had a large increase in performance and aerobatic agility. The summerof 2015, the Air Combat San Diego syllabus was developed and approved by the FAA under Military Experience flights. Though a scenic tour, this program enabled San Diego Sky Tours to sell formation and air combat flights to the general public. Colonel Earl 'Pearl' Wederbrook (USMC retired) and former F-14 Tomcat pilot Stephen Donnelly was brought on to help perfect the air combat program and utilize there extensive Fighter Pilot experience.
In early 2016, San Diego Sky Tours upgraded their original Great Lakes to a higher powered and more maneuverable Great Lakes 2T-1A-2. This aircraft improvement enabled the Air Combat program to be more compatible and realistic. New modifications and improvements are being developed to continue to improve upon our aviation program.
Major Phil 'Blo' Kendro (USMC retired), a former AV-8B and Cessna Citation Pilot joined the team and works with the biplane tours and Air Combat programs. Besides flying, 'Blo' is integral with developing new marketing strategies improving our digital and traditional venues.
USMC Colonel (ret) Earl 'the Pearl' Wederbrook is one of the Air Combat and Tour Pilots with the Biplanes. Pearl flew F-4's, F-5's and F-18's with the USMC. Pearl works with San Diego Sky Tours among various other military veteran and support programs throughout San Diego.
'Pearl' served as Operations Officer for VMFAT-101, 3rd Marine Wing, commanded VMFT 401 Aggressor Squadron in Yuma, and reached the apex of his career by commanding Marine Aircraft Group 11 at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar.
USMC Major (ret) Phil 'Blo' Kendro is the newest addition to our tour group as a Biplane Tour and Air Combat Pilot. 'Blo' flew AV-8 Harrier Jump jets and Cessna Citations in the Marines and management of the Miramar Airshow. Click HERE for his full bio.
Robert "Bob" Ambler , Flight Instructor, Tour Pilot and American Airlines Captain (retired), and Inspector of Aircraft
Bob Ambler - Background- US Army. Bob has over 21,075 hours flight experience with time spent fight instructing, fish spotting, airlines and over 40 years of recreational flying. He has attempted flying around the world in his Super Cruiser, and successfully made it across the Atlantic and all the way to Turkey. Great adventure!
Besides flying expertise, Bob is a certified aircraft mechanic (A&P) and an inspector of aircraft (IA). He spends his free time flying his Columbia 300 and Super Cruiser aircraft, with over 15 recreational trips to Catalina this summer!
James Kapenas, Co-owner/founder, Check Airman, Master/Gold Seal Flight Instructor
Background- USMC Infantry Raider. With over 8000 hrs James has worked as an airline pilot and for several charter companies. He has mentored hundreds of aviators and accumulated over 5000 flight instruction hrs
Barbara J.H. Ambler helps create graphics for San Diego Sky Tours/ Air Combat. She hopes to enhance this passionate group's ability to share aviation's sense of adventure and beauty. Check out her other illustration and design work at http://barbaraambler.com.
Erich Moulder, Co-Owner and Founder/ Chief Pilot, Check Airman, Flight Instructor, & Airline Pilot
Background - Former Navy Pilot & Air Force Academy Graduate, class of 1995. With over 6300 flight hours, Erich works as a First Officer with Compass Airlines and serves with many aviation and veterans groups. Erich is the founder of Air Combat San Diego, and partners with James for San Diego Sky Tours. He has over 1400 flight instructor hours and specializes in training Upset Recovery, marketing, biplane tail wheel training, formation and aerobatics.