Do you Dream of Flight? San Diego Sky Tours is a veteran run and flown aerial tour company motivated by that same passion of flight.
San Diego Sky Tours is all about inspiring and sharing aviation in our community. First, we love to share aviation with children and people that don't get the opportunity to fly fun airplanes. Second, we inspire, teach and support current aviators from around the world to hone their piloting skills.
Our Journey: From impassioned youth to professional seasoned aviators.
My name is Erich Moulder and I started flying when I was 13 years old when I earned an airplane ride from parents for a good report card. Thanks Mom and Dad! This airplane ride inspired of a level of motivation that brought me to the United States Air Force Academy, a career in Naval Aviation, and United Airlines. My story is no different from most of our pilots, they love airplanes, flying and taking you up in the air!
Biplane Pilots are a passioned breed of aviator.
San Diego Sky Tours took flight
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.
I became a partner with Jim in 2011 and brought the first Biplane to the aircraft lineup. We both had full time flying careers but our enthusiasm for aerial tours helped us wedge into the tour market and build our Squadron of pilots, aircraft and hangar. We collected pilots from all aspects of aviation and one virtue rings true, that love of flight that brings you to our page.
We have had great success. In 2015, San Diego Sky Tours purchased our 2nd Biplane. This new biplane aircraft had better performance and aerobatic agility. The summer of 2015, the Air Combat San Diego syllabus was developed and approved by the FAA under Military Experience flights. This new program, organized by fighter pilot Colonel Earl "the Pearl" Wederbrook (USMC Retired), enabled San Diego Sky Tours to bring formation and air combat flights to the general public.
As a result, we upgraded the original aircraft bought a third biplane and gained a nice lineup of tours from the 'Mild' to the 'Wild'. The pilots are our recipe for success: a superb lineup of tour pilots equals a trail of inspired customers. Check out some of our comments from past passengers.
Erich 'Fox' Moulder
Erich Moulder - Former Navy Pilot & Air Force Academy Graduate, class of 1995. With over 7007 flight hours, Erich works as a First Officer with United Airlines and serves with many aviation and veterans groups. Erich partners with James for San Diego Sky Tours. He has over 1800 flight instructor hours and specializes in training Upset Recovery, Biplane Tail Wheel training, Formation and Aerobatics. Erich manages the digital side, videos and marketing.
Owner/founder, Master/Gold Seal Flight Instructor, G-IV and Pilatus Charter Pilot.
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.
James is a true entrepreneur. Besides his daily work with Sky Tours and his Gulf stream position, Jim is slowly acquiring Cessna Aircraft for leaseback with Plus One Flyers, the largest flying club in the world.
Earl 'The Pearl' Wederbrook
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.
Jeff "Jay Lo" Laird
Jeff Laird, Navy Pilot and Naval Academy graduate '06. Born and raised in West Chester, Pennsylvania, he is a real 'ladies man' supported by a wonderful wife and two young girls. Jeff's last assignment was a Navy Flight instructor with over 1700 instructional hours specializing in upset recovery, formation, and aerobatics.
Jeff is currently an Operations Officer, Navy Helicopter Pilot at NAS North Island and Tour/Instructor Pilot with Sky Tours. He enjoys giving tours, aerobatics training and sharing his passion for aviation to our customers on his free time. His hobbies include Sky Diving, Surfing, and Kite Surfing.
Vinny "Otter" Lostetter
Colonel Vincent "Otter" Lostetter, USAF. Otter is a USAF Academy, '88 grad and former B-1b Lancer Pilot and Commanding Officer. He flew multiple aircraft in the Air Forces inventory and enjoys our biplanes as moreso :-). Otter currently is retired from the USAF and continues to serve as AFJROTC Commander at a local San Diego High School and flies Sky Tours.
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!
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.