Flying the Bell 47 with English Air

If you’re a resident of the Santa Maria Valley in central California — or have spent any degree of time in the area — you’ll have most certainly heard the whirl of one of English Air Service’s Bell 47 helicopters in the sky above you in the early morning. Owned by Mark and Tracy English and located at Santa Maria Airport, English Air is an agricultural operations specialist that uses several versions of the classic Bell 47 to provide year-round service to the farmers of the region’s fertile coastal plains.

While the company has broadened its operations over the years, offering lidar aerial surveys around the country and then moving into the utility market with the use of an MD 500, agricultural operations are still the heart of English Air.

Mark always dreamed of making a career in the aviation industry. His love of flying started at a very young age, and, in 1981, he gained his fixed-wing pilot’s certificate. Rotary-wing qualification soon followed, and in 1986, Mark and Tracy started English Air as newlyweds. A loan from a local bank helped the pair purchase their first helicopter, and with the support of the local farming community, Mark’s dream job took flight.

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