A tour of San Diego by air gives you a birds eye view of not just one of the most scenic cities in the country, you are looking at a landscape that has played host to an amazing array of history. With a little imagination you can visualize what the first explorers must have felt when they first discovered this amazing natural harbor. You can look around the sky and see the same airspace that Charles Lindbergh first flew the Spirit of Saint Louis in and imagine him departing east with his new airplane. An unknown airmail pilot with big dreams. You are also sharing the same sky that the worlds best fighter pilots honed their craft in. MCAS Miramar, home of the world famous Top Gun school will be immediately of your right when you take off, the birthplace of the Spirit of Saint Louis will be off your left.
You are also flying over a very historically significant coastline relative to the sport of surfing. Starting to the south, there is a surf spot right on the Mexico U.S. border called Tijuana Sloughs. This was an early mysto big wave spot that early California surf pioneers like Dempsey Holder and Bob Simmons surfed in the 1950’s. It still offers up world class big surf but unfortunately it is at the mouth of the Tijuana river, spilling thousands of gallons of raw sewage into its lineup. For this reason it’s rarely surfed anymore and Northern California's Mavericks is now considered"California’s premier big wave venue."
Simmons, a mathematician with Douglas Aircraft during World War Two, is considered the Father of the modern surfboard. He applied principles he learned at Douglas Aircraft to create faster surfboards as well as introducing lighter weight surfboards. This he did by sandwiching styrofoam between layers of balsa wood and covering it with fiberglass. He perished in 1954 surfing at La Jolla’s Windansea beach. WindanSea is deeply ingrained in surf lore. Because of La Jolla’s closeness to offshore deep water canyons and that there is less of a continental shelf then in other parts of California, the waves come out of deeper water and have more power when they reach the shore as a result. WindanSea is just one of many La Jolla surf spots that almost replicate the size and power of Hawaii’s North Shore. For this reason many of the first surfers who successfully pioneered Hawaii’s large surf were from La Jolla. WindanSea local Butch Van Artsdalen was the very first “Mr Pipeline”. The experience he honed on La Jolla’s reefs were a natural stepping stone to his becoming the first standout surfer at one of the world's most dangerous surf spots when it was first surfed in the 1960’s.
When you fly over the Ocean Beach pier you are flying over the sight of the 1966 World Surfing Championship. That contest gave birth to what we now know as the modern “shortboard” era of surfing. Australian Nat Young won hands down and revolutionized the sport of surfing by demonstrating how riding a smaller more maneuverable surfboard could create numerous options for high performance surfing not previously considered. You could say the 1966 World Surfing Championship had the same effect on the sport of surfing that Charles Lindberghs flight did on aviation. It opened the eyes of many people as to what was possible.
Pacific Beach is home to one of San Diego’s most revered surfers, Skip Frye. Husband to popular San Diego politician Donna Frye who entered politics as a result of activism born of her husband becoming ill due to ocean pollution. She served on the City Council from 2002 to 2010. Skip is a legendary surfer and surfboard shaper who has been creating highly coveted surfboards since the 1960’s. His boards are still in great demand and he can still be seen surfing off Pacific Beach point. To this day his wave riding skills still turn heads and are considered the embodiment of stylish artistic wave riding. As you head north you pass La Jolla Shores and then Blacks. Blacks is just north of the Scripps pier and is particularly close to some offshore deep water canyons that on its day can provide world class waves that are renowned for their shape and power. Although some people know it as a clothing optional beach! It also offers world class soaring, hang gliding and parasailing along its cliffs.
No where else in California are so many legendary surf spots and so much surf history so cloistered together as in San Diego.