Sky Trail takes tourism sky high

One of the world’’s largest archaeological sites — General Patton’s World War II Desert Training Center — is now viewable in its full grandeur thanks to an innovation in air tourism.

The site covers 19,000 square miles of mostly empty desert between LA and Las Vegas. Though chock-full of artifacts and history, it’s almost impossible to comprehend at eye level because of the remoteness and vast scale. Santa Barbara pilot Larry Dighera, working in conjunction with the Bureau of Land Management and through a Wolf Aviation Fund grant, has developed a solutionto this giant-scale tourism challenge with his recently introduced Desert Training Center Sky Trail

In April, 1942, General George S. Patton, Jr. created this massive military training facility to prepare troops to fight in the deserts of North Africa. In the two years Patton’s soldiers swarmed the desert, they created an entire community complete with hospitals, chapels, air strips and roads. The scale of the resulting ruins presents a problem for preservationists — who hope to save some vestige of the camps — but an opportunity for pilots, according to Dighera.

By following designated waypoints available on the website, pilots and their passengers can view the seemingly endless remains by air.

The Sky Trail will appeal to pilots flying between Los Angeles and Los Vegas, historians, and aerial tour operators, according to Dighera, who says he hopes the DTC Sky Trail will serve as a prototype for future Sky Trails.

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