I've been in Santa Barbara the last two days at a meeting. Santa Barbara is a great little city, and the weather was perfect: sunny and clear, with just a hint of a cool ocean breeze. The night was clear as well, and after dinner several of us took a nice walk out and around the yacht harbor, under the stars.
I used to spend more time in Santa Barbara , when I was a Southern Californian - always on the road between Los Angeles and San Luis Obispo. This was the first time I'd ever flown into town. The airport is so small that when I got in Thursday morning, and when I left Friday night, I don't think there could have been more than 100 people there, including passengers, employees, security, etc.
Sitting in the outdoor, second-floor, patio bar (I had time to kill) I got a kick out how peaceful an airport could be. Most of the air traffic going in and out seemed to be of the private, two-seater variety. The largest of the commercial planes I saw were about 30 seater jets. I came and left on a 30 seater turbo-prop (a Brasilia 120).
I've gone on several trips now, since September 11, and this is the first time I really thought the armed national Guardsmen were completely out of place. Arriving in these cute little planes, into this tiny, adobe-style airport, could make you think of a long-ago, more innocent time - like flying into 1962. Then the guys with the machine guns walk past and forty years flash by in an instant.