The Santa Barbara Municipal Airport: How it Becomes Today

Santa Barbara Airport

Santa Barbara Municipal Airport (Photo Credit: Santa Barbara Government)

Santa Barbara Airport, located within 2 miles of the UCSB campus and 8 miles from downtown Santa Barbara, served as the transportation center of the entire County. It is the busiest airport in west coast between San Jose and Los Angeles airport with more than 750,000 passengers coming and going annually, which is approximately 2,100 passengers on an average day. The airport is essential to both the economy in Santa Barbara and the UCSB students. There are about 5,000 student every year coming to the airport to receive airport tours.

The background history of the Santa Barbara Airport is strongly connected to UCSB by one person: Thomas M. Storke.


Thomas M. Storke (1876-1971)

During his days as a senate, he helped secure the land for both UCSB campus and the Santa Barbara Airport.  Mr. Storke was born and died in Santa Barbara, he was originally a journalist and then the University of California regent and the California senate. The landmark tower – the Storke Tower – is named in memory of Thomas M. Storke for his contributions to the UCSB campus and the Santa Barbara County as a whole. The airport also served its duty during war time. In World War II, as Japan attacked America and started the war, there was a need for military basements. During that period of time, Santa Barbara Airport became the station for training and
servicing facilities for Marine Air Groups. The airport has seen so many historical events inside the Santa Barbara County.


As we have today, Santa Barbara Municipal Airport helped UCSB students in transferring them from home to school. It operates routes between Santa Barbara to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Phoenix, Denver, Seattle, and Portland. A lot of UCSB students are from the cities above. When the school is off for holiday, taking a airplane from the UCSB airport is the most fast and convenient way for students to come back home and get reunion with their families. The airport is operated by United Airlines, American/US Airways, and Alaska Airlines, which are all very competitive in prices too.


Inside Santa Barbara Municipal Airport (Photo Credit:Airport improvement)

There are more of the Santa Barbara Airport history that are connected to UCSB students. A great student should not only know the history of his or her school but also the environment around it. As one of the major airports in the United States with the walk distance, every UCSB student should take some time and plan a visit. The airport contains a lot of memories by many generations of UCSB students.


Further Reading:

Developed to Serve Wartime Need:

Santa Barbara Airport Statistics:

Santa Barbara – A rich Aviation History:

Pandell, Lexi. “The Legacy of Thomas M. Storke”:




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