Prince William & Kate's California Helicopter Ride

07/12/2011 at 04:00 PM EDT

Prince William, Kate Middleton's Helicopter Ride to Santa Barbara
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge
Tim Rooke/REX USA
The Duchess of Cambridge had plenty to see during her very first trip to the U.S. With the help of private helicopters and Prince William, she managed to cover a lot of territory during her three-day stay.

En route to Santa Barbara on Saturday, Kate got a sky tour of California landmarks, including the Capitol Records building, the Ronald Reagan library and Lake Casitas.

"They were taking it all in, looking out the window and busy talking," pilot Mike Phillips says of the royal couple's 45-minute flight. I heard [William] say, 'Why don't you sit here? It's the best view.'"

Phillips says William's adoration for his bride was evident in flight.

Prince William & Kate's California Helicopter Ride| Royal Wedding, Kate Middleton, Prince William

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arriving in Santa Barbara via helicopter


"He was very courteous and let Kate get in first," Phillips adds of the newlyweds, both 29. "He obviously thinks the world of her. It was nice to see and refreshing. You can tell they are very in tune with one another."

But the $4,000 sky-high adventure wasn't solely about the duchess, as William took the time to chat up Phillips as well.

"He was very engaging, and when we flew back, he talked to me a little bit about the helicopter – he definitely seemed like he knew what he was talking about," says Phillips, who also serves as director of operations for South Bay Helicopter Service.

"He asked, 'How much fuel do you use? How much does it cost an hour?' You could tell he wanted to fly this."

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