The Ultimate Way to Explore the Bay Area, the City & Wine Country

A new aviation company offers personalized luxurious urban mobility.

BY TERESA RODRIGUEZ | PHOTOS BY TRACY MOORE

Take to the skies for a once-in-a-lifetime, airborne tour of Sonoma. Butterfly Aviation, a luxury helicopter company based in the San Francisco Bay Area, offers transportation services and curated “flightseeing” tours operated by distinguished, military-trained pilots. Butterfly Aviation was founded by prominent sports psychologist, author, and documentary film producer Dr. Steven Ungerleider.

Dr. Ungerleider wrote and co-produced the film At the Heart of Gold which he sold to HBO. Still very involved in sports medicine, Dr. Ungerleider founded Butterfly Aviation with some passionate friends in the aviation industry. An incredible team of elite pilots fly guests to Sonoma County with the opportunity to visit 27 different wineries.

Unlike any other form of transportation, the flight from Silicon Valley to Sonoma is short. The helicopters can land at the places guests want to visit. One of the most dramatic spots is at Mauritson Wines in Dry Creek Valley, where the helicopters land on the top of the mountain and guests get to enjoy a day of wine tasting and a tour of the property. Another favorite itinerary includes a trip to coastal gem Hirsch Vineyards, where the helicopter lands on cliffs overlooking the ocean. Other epic places include Newport Ranch Inn and Little River Inn. At the hotels, pilots drop you off and pick you up when you are ready to depart. Some of the airports they regularly fly in and out of include Palo Alto, San Carlos, and Half Moon Bay. They can also pick up guests at Hayward Executive Airport or Oakland International Airport.

Butterfly Aviation’s VIP Bell 407 helicopter seats seven and is equipped with noise cancelling headphones, plush leather seats, and air-conditioning. All itineraries custom created specifically for each guest. Butterfly Aviation has built partnerships with local car services and limousine companies; so, if you want to land at an airport instead of at one of their partner wineries or resorts, they can easily coordinate land transportation to your final destination.

Some of the most popular itineraries include a trip to Lake Sonoma and Mauritson Ranch where the owners will fly with you and talk about the land and winery while soaring over the property.

Healdsburg is another favorite destination where the helicopter lands at the small local airport just five minutes from town. A limousine picks up guests and takes them downtown. The full itinerary includes dinner at the Michelin-star restaurant, Valette. Lake Tahoe is another fantastic trip with four different airports where Butterfly Aviation can land, and less than an hour from most Bay Area locations.

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