Choosing a flight school

Choosing The Best Flight School For You

Reach Your Aviation Career Goals

When it comes to choosing the best flight school, most students prioritize accessibility, financing options, and how quickly the program gets you to your next aviation goal. At Leading Edge Flight Academy, we have nearly 20 years of experience launching aviation careers. During that time, we’ve developed an FAA-approved curriculum, robust training program, and network of industry partners to set our students up for success. 

LEFA’s parent company, Leading Edge Aviation, has been a commercial helicopter operator for nearly 20 years. This gives us a unique perspective about what is needed in the aviation industry that many schools don’t have so we can prepare you to be not just a certificated pilot but a well-rounded professional aviator.

The Best Flight School Should…

Understand and support your unique aviation goals.

Whether your career goals are corporate, cargo, charter, or something else altogether, you deserve a flight school that understands and supports your unique career path. At Leading Edge Flight Academy, we are our students’ advocates and strive to provide service that meets their individual needs and goals. 

Provide multiple flight school financing options.

The cost of flight school can be a significant obstacle for many aspiring pilots. At Leading Edge Flight Academy, we’re proud to offer multiple financing options. Through the degree program at Central Oregon Community College, students have access to additional financing options and scholarships, which can include Federal student loans and Pell Grants. 

Create a clear path from pilot-in-training to professional pilot.

Accelerated professional pilot training programs claim you can complete the program in less than a year. But they don’t mention that these programs often don’t bridge the gap between flight school and minimum flight hour requirements for second tier employment. At Leading Edge Flight Academy, we create a clear path for our students to accrue their required flight hours so they can embark on pilot careers faster and more cost-efficiently.

Have an impeccable safety record.

At Leading Edge Flight Academy, safety is the heart of everything we do. Our Safety Management System (SMS), dedicated Director of Safety, and Safety Committee all work to identify hazards and mitigate risks on a daily basis. Employees, customers, and students are all encouraged to submit hazard reports. These are processed digitally to look at trends and proactively increase the overall level of safety in everything we do. Every flight starts with a Flight Risk Assessment Tool that flight crews use to understand the level of risk for that specific operation.

Commercial Aviation businesses have SMS programs, some are even mandated by regulations. Students who are developed in this safety culture structure will not only be safer but also have an advantage over those without this experience.

Is Leading Edge Flight Academy The Right Flight School For You?

As an FAA-approved Part 141 school, our students build the highest skill level in the most efficient time possible. Our program offers a quicker path to employment through Part 141’s lower minimum hour requirements to achieve all ratings/certificates in a shorter amount of time. Once you complete and become one of our instructors you will average 50-70 flight hours a month, allowing them to bridge the hour requirement gap more quickly.

We also offer multiple aviation loan options and work closely with COCC who offers an Aviation Degree Program, which lowers barriers to entry that can prevent students from pursuing an aviation career. 

Finally, we pride ourselves on taking a personalized approach to flight training. Our team gets to know each student’s unique goals to support their aviation career ambitions.

Ready to get started? Contact our admissions team to learn more. 

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Leading Edge was where I started my aviation career. They gave me to tools necessary to instruct, fly in rural Alaska, and finally become an Airline pilot. Training was always fun and exciting, but at the same time challenging. As a veteran, it is unbelievable that in two years, I got a degree as well as all my fixed wing ratings at no out-of-pocket expense. I always think to myself, “Why doesn’t everyone do this?

Clint Sheppard

Clint Sheppard
Becoming an airline pilot has always been my ultimate goal, and Leading Edge provided the best opportunity to build my flight experience up to the minimums required by the airlines. I grew up watching airplanes fly into the Bend airport, and flying over my hometown on a daily basis is one of the highlights of my career so far. As a SkyWest pilot, I now find myself flying into many of the same airports I first visited during my time at Leading Edge!

Garrett Ross

Garrett Ross
COCC and Leading Edge helped get me to where I am today. The instructors, working with management, always wanted the best. It’s the group of people you work with that makes a company great, and at Leading Edge the camaraderie within the organization was awesome. That is what I saw as a student and an instructor. I really liked my time there and enjoyed the fact that everyone was tracking the same goal. I would recommend anyone to go fly there because there is a distinct difference in the knowledge and ambition coming out of this school that I haven’t seen from other pilots from different schools.

Andrew Camara

Andrew Camara
This is one big happy family of mechanics, pilots, and instructors. I’m very excited to become a professional pilot at Leading Edge Aviation and to invest in the rest of my aviation career.

Katani Best

Katani Best
Air Methods Corporation provides advanced air ambulance services as a flying ICU (Intensive Care Unit). The crew consists of one nurse, one paramedic, and the pilot. We respond at the request of EMS to rural scenes, and also transfer patients between hospitals. Our base in located in Osage Beach, Missouri. Air Methods has over 330 bases in 48 states. The education I received from Leading Edge and COCC prepared me in all aspects of flying, from air traffic-controlled environments to rural off-airport operations in the Cascade Mountain range. Flying in the mountains of Oregon prepared me perfectly to be an air ambulance pilot (now) and a bush pilot in Alaska (my previous 4 years experience). 

Will Lawrence

Will Lawrence
I work for JR Helicopters as an OAS-carded fire and short haul helicopter pilot flying AS-350b3 Astars. I fight fires and do search-and-rescue for Sequoia National Park in California. In the winter months, I am on-call for Part 135 commercial work. I couldn’t have asked for better training than I received at Leading Edge Aviation and COCC. They prepared me above-and-beyond with both my flight training and knowledge-base for my career in aviation. On top of that, I got to do it all in amazing Central Oregon!

Jordan Kunhmuench

Jordan Kunhmuench
It’s become part of who I am and I will never lose the desire and love I have for it.” Alice loves the freedom and adventure it brings! She wants to make flying into her career and inspire more women around the world! She highly encourages any women’s curiosity in aviation to give it a try!  She says, “Being a female pilot is empowering and rewarding!

Alice Reed

Alice Reed
I’ve obtained my Private certificate, Instrument rating, and Commercial certificate. I went on to obtain my CFI/CFII, flying as an instructor and running Part 91 tours through the end of my training program. By the time I graduated, I was interested in using my experience to pursue a few different career paths. From Grand Canyon helicopter tours to working off-shore and gas or utility operations, the sky is truly the limit for COCC/LEFA graduates.

Levi Rogers

Levi Rogers
That job really inspired me to pursue a career as a pilot. I started flight school at Leading Edge in 2016. I felt like I was getting a late start with my career and didn’t want to take on a lot of debt, so I worked my winters in Antarctica to save money and spent the summer finishing a rating. I’ve been so happy with my flight training at Leading Edge and all of the instructors who have helped me along the way.  

Becca Voltin

Becca Voltin
After completing my flight training and instructing at LEA, I got the opportunity to fly tours in EC 130s and AS 350’s in the Grand Canyon. Those experiences prepared me for the 2020 fire season, where I am now fighting fire in Central Oregon.

Tori Palmer

Tori Palmer
Leading Edge Flight Academy, in partnership with Central Oregon Community College, is very happy to announce the new Instrument Rating Scholarship. We are excited to be joining the list of Whirly Girl contributors and help advance women pilots in the industry. The recipient will receive the required training for a helicopter instrument rating, gaining the invaluable skills necessary to become a better, safer pilot. At Leading Edge, we instill our values of safety and professionalism with each student we graduate through a course; helping the aviation community grow, one success story at a time. Director of Flight School Operations

Nicole Wolf

Nicole Wolf
I wanted to do something that challenged myself. Do something interesting, something that would benefit me for the rest of my life.

Jackson Jukin

Jackson Jukin
While pursuing my Private Pilot Certificate, I tried out three different flight schools that either closed their doors for good or wasn’t the right fit. LEFA was one of the few schools that could honestly stand by their GI Bill program. Their instructors accelerated my training and helped me achieve CFII in 9 months. Finding a good flight school is hard! I’ve talked to so many students recently that have been failed by poorly operated schools that don’t hold up their promises. ???????? (Tori Palmer a former student/instructor is now a Contract Fire Pilot for Helicopter Express!)

Tori Palmer

Tori Palmer
Leading Edge Flight Academy helped me get to where I am now in many ways!  First while a student I worked Line Service and then in Dispatch where I learned aircraft scheduling, maintenance coordination and the importance of ground support. Then when hired as a flight instructor I had great mentors that all taught me the valuable information that I now use flying every day!

Mario Armendariz

Mario Armendariz
Leading Edge is known for its diversity and high standards. Not only did they give me the skill set needed to pursue my career, LEFA helped pave the path to my first turbine transition job – one of many steps needed to get me to where I am today.

Twila Contreras

Twila Contreras
I can always depend on Leading Edge’s high standards to provide quality pilots that excel within Papillon.

Tyler Carver, Papillons Chief Pilot

Tyler Carver, Papillons Chief Pilot
It was a really fun experience to be able to help ferry the MD500 across the country and fly through extensive airspace. It’s one of those things that, as an instructor, you always talk about and teach but not everyone has done it. I’m truly grateful to have had the opportunity. It’s definitely something I look forward to passing on to another person one day. It was nice to fly one of the coolest helicopters around too, so I can’t complain!

Cody Davis

Cody Davis
When I started flying, the college and the flight provider laid out a plan for me—where I was gonna start and where I wanted to end up… 3.5 years later, I’m going to the airlines, which is exactly where I wanted to be when I started.

Jake Edgerly

Jake Edgerly
Instructing at LEFA for 2.5 years not only got me the flight hours and experience necessary to make the next step in my career, but made the transition to flying bigger/faster aircraft easier. LEFA’s safety oriented, fast paced and professional program helped me sharpen valuable skills that have been necessary to meet the high safety and punctuality standards in the corporate pilot industry.

Cullen Foss

Cullen Foss
Leading Edge provided me with the exceptional training that prepared me for an awesome career as a professional aviator. The kicker is that you get to train in the dynamic and gorgeous area that is central Oregon! I couldn’t be happier with my decision to fly at Leading Edge and choose aviation as my career!

Adam Mitchell

Adam Mitchell
After instructing I got the opportunity to work in Alaska, delivering parts and supplies to a remote gold mine. It helped pave the way to land my current job at a 135 operation. I fly C207s into the local villages delivering cargo and passengers in the Yukon Delta where driving is not always an option. It’s always good to maintain relationships in the aviation community because you never know who’s going to help you get to the next step in your career– or who you may help!

Dayne Schafer

Dayne Schafer
Leading Edge has been a great stepping stone for me to transition from military aviation into the commercial world. I did a lot of long IFR flights, in a large multi-engine aircraft, utilizing crew resource management and operating under military rules. Leading Edge allowed me to experience VFR flying out of a busy uncontrolled field, in a tiny/simple plane, utilize single pilot resource management, and get spooled up on the FARs as they apply to general/commercial aviation. Without the opportunity to experience this first hand as I did, and then pass that knowledge on to my students, I’d still be trying to wrap my head around the differences between military/commercial aviation. 

Brad

Brad
As a First Officer, I assist Captains in the operation of our CRJ fleet; we get to fly the 200, 700, and 900 variants to all parts of the country! As a Procedures Instructor, I teach new hires how to apply what they learn from Ground School to successfully accomplish a regular gate to gate flight. The foremost impact of my time at Leading Edge was getting to train and work alongside some of the sharpest and kindest individuals one could…I learned a staggering amount both personally and professionally. They are all inspiring and motivating to keep oneself improving and growing, which is arguably the most important habit any pilot can develop.

Steven Crowe

Steven Crowe
I moved to Bend, OR after I retired from the Navy to pursue my passion of becoming a professional pilot.  Even though I was a relatively junior instructor with just a handful of CFI experience, I was hired by Leading Edge Flight Academy. Over the past two years I’ve  had the opportunity to grow and hone my skills as a pilot and ultimately assume the title and responsibilities of Lead CFI and Check Instructor. Flying in Central Oregon presents unique challenges and opportunities for young students and their instructors. Pilots are presented with real-world flying scenarios that can teach them valuable lessons about flying safely while executing sound decision making skills.  I had the pleasure of having Nick as one of my first students when I started teaching at Leading Edge. It has been very rewarding to see him (and others) earn their pilot wings and become instructors as well! As I move on to a career in the airlines I reflect on my time at Leading Edge and am thankful for the amazing people I have had the opportunity to work with.

Andrew Reischauer

Andrew Reischauer