There have been a lot of large companies and big brands in all industries that come and go. Out of that stack, there are few that can manage to hold on to their DNA and soul into the tens and hundreds of millions+ of revenue. Oakley is clearly in this category, along with Apple, and my friend Andy Laats’s company, Nixon.

I’ve had a personal relationship with the brand since the late 80’s when I rocked my first pair of Frog Skins. I rocked those bad boys for years when I was a young deck hand on a recreational SCUBA boat out of Ventura, CA. Later, I continued to wear their glasses on the range and in the CQB kill house. I’ve always been a fan, the stuff just works.

I was invited up to Oakley HQ last year, but my schedule has been so jammed that I wasn’t able to take Jason Kenitzer (Senior Designer) up on his offer until May of this year. I’d heard in hushed tones from a few of my action sports friends that the Oakley headquarters in Orange County, CA was off the hook. They were right.

It was the stereotypical southern California day, clear skies and 70 degrees at 10 a.m, as I finished up my pre-flight of the SOFREP.com Yak-52. My flight plan would take me through MCAS Miramar’s air space, direct to the Oceanside VOR (pilot talk for radio navigational aid), then direct to John Wayne international airport in Orange County. The flight took me about 35 minutes, and let me avoid the angry Ranger Rover driving OC soccer moms on I-405.