Meet Our Helicopter Instructors

Nicole Wolf

Director of Flight School Operations

Chris Jordan

Helicopter Chief Instructor

Jay Bunning

Director of Training

Matt Smith

Director of Student Progress

Ben Loggins

Helicopter Instructor

Carl Manning

Helicopter Instructor

Daniel Campbell

Helicopter Instructor

Devon Chalfant

Helicopter Instructor

Gerod Aleshire

Helicopter Instructor

Grant Solich

Helicopter Instructor

Hyrum Fry

Helicopter Instructor

Jonathan Kline

Helicopter Instructor

Morgan Johnson

Helicopter Instructor

Thomas Corbin

Helicopter Instructor

Tanner Oldenkamp

Helicopter Instructor

Abram Weinberg

Helicopter Instructor

Caleb Stoyle

Helicopter Instructor

Jacob Peterson

Helicopter Instructor

Max Kulver

Helicopter Instructor

Kurt Conricote

Helicopter Instructor

Adam Keller

Helicopter Instructor

HELICOPTERFLEET

Our Helicopter Fleet

Are you ready to fly? We select our helicopters for their safety, reliability, and flight learning progression. Modern and meticulously maintained, they’re the ideal choice for beginners and career pilots alike. 

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Robinson R22 Helicopter

Robinson R22 Helicopter

The two-seat R22 helicopter is a proven workhorse that has delivered exceptional value in various applications for over thirty years. It’s the most popular airframe used in flight schools worldwide. The R22 is a piston-powered helicopter with a two-bladed rotor system and the latest Robinson technology. Operating cost plus maneuverability make this airframe our primary platform for Private, Commercial, and Flight Instructor training.

Robinson R44 Helicopter

Robinson R44 Helicopter

The four-seat Robinson R44 helicopters are high-performing, reliable, and easy to maintain. R44s have a two-bladed rotor system and the latest in Robinson technology, including streamlined instrument panels and bladder fuel tanks. Their aerodynamic fuselage optimizes airspeed and fuel economy, while hydraulic controls eliminate feedback forces and provide responsive handling. Because of its increased stability and range, we use the R44 for instrument, mountain, long line, and NVG training courses. 

Bell 206 Series Helicopter

Bell 206 Series Helicopter

The Bell 206 series helicopter is a two-bladed, turbine-powered helicopter. They are flexible, all-purpose helicopters that comfortably seat 3-5 passengers. We use these aircraft for tours as well as our turbine transition, long line, and mountain courses.

Frasca AATD R44 Simulator

We also have a Frasca AATD R44 simulator that’s standardized to match the instrument cockpits of our actual aircraft. Students expand on maneuver techniques, emergency procedures, and learn to fly in adverse weather and visual conditions to any of 100,000 airports. All in a controlled learning environment without the risk and stress of actual flight. Additionally, in the instrument rating for example, students can gain up to 40% of the instrument flight experience required for an FAA instrument rating at a fraction of the cost.

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Chris Jordan Chief

Helicopter Instructor


Though he now serves as our Chief Helicopter Instructor and the Director of Operations, Chris Jordan started his aviation career as a Leading Edge Flight Academy student. Chris started flying with LEFA back in 2006—when there was one helicopter, one instructor, and no  more than five students. Following flight training, Chris spent 8 years in Alaska flying utility jobs and fire contracts, both with Leading Edge and for other companies. 

Chris’s aviation journey brought him back to beautiful Bend, Oregon, where he’s continued to grow the flight school program by providing exceptional instruction to our students. When asked what advice he’d offer to an aspiring helicopter pilot, he responded that success requires perseverance, dedication, and never saying no to something that will further your career. 

“If you make the decision to start flight training, stick with it. Dedication is number one.” — Chris 

Why Fly With Leading Edge?

At Leading Edge Flight Academy, we’ve built our flight school experience on four core values: safety, service, expertise, and integrity. Learn more about what that means students like you. 

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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
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
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