Channel City Club

By Lynda Millner   |   December 13, 2018
Jill Nida and sponsor Gary Simpson with Channel City Club executive director Judy Hill at their luncheon

You always know when the Christmas season is here when the Channel City Club has its annual Christmas luncheon and program at the Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort. It began with Gil Rosas playing the piano followed by the Montecito Union School choir conducted by Pam Herzog singing all sorts of Christmas and Hanukkah music. These kids are dedicated. They come to school three days a week at 7:45 am to practice. Their last song is always “White Christmas,” even if it’s only wishing.

MC Ed Birch thanked Gary Simpson for sponsoring the luncheon. He owns Ace Hardware Home Improvement Center and Ed bragged on him. Of the 4,200 Ace stores in the United States Gary’s is the second largest in transactions. Quite a record.

Erin Graffy introduced the speaker, Julian Nott, world-renowned scientific balloon designer and experimental test pilot. His list of credits was almost as long as his speech. Just kidding! But his accomplishments are astounding. Just to begin, as of today he has broken 79 world and 96 British ballooning records and one world skydiving record. He has been involved in designing and piloting the first ever hot air balloon with a pressurized cabin, the first crossing of the Sahara Desert, the first crossing of Australia and piloting the world’s first solar balloon across the English Channel. And that’s just the beginning. 

As Julian said, “Always get a friend to introduce you!” He also has one of his balloons at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. He has a balloon license. Yes, you need one. And has met half of the royal family including the Queen. His song is naturally, “Up, Up and Away.”

Channel City Club speaker Julian Nott with 40-year Air Force test pilot Addison Thompson
The Montecito Union choir entertaining the Channel City Club at their Christmas luncheon

Besides balloons, the other love of Julian’s life is his wife Anne Luther –a PR gal extraordinaire. I’ve known her since she left New York to take a position at the Bacara when it had just opened.

Julian’s message to the group was to have Intellectual Courage. “That means not listening to naysayers. It means thinking out of the box. Don’t ask if your dreams are crazy, but are they crazy enough. Don’t let anyone stop you.” Julian wants balloons not to be playthings, but a medium for adventure, exploration, and scientific discovery for the next millennium, on earth and across the solar system. He’s already been a senior scientific consultant for NASA for ten years.

We all need to put our Intellectual Courage hats on. You can visit Channel City Club at or call 805.564.6223 if you’d like to join.


You might also be interested in...