Leading Edge Flight Academy

Professional Helicopter Training in Bend, Oregon

Situated at 3,460 feet above sea level our location offers ideal conditions for learning to fly a helicopter. Get firsthand experience with mountain operations and the challenges of navigating four weather seasons. With 300+ days of sunshine, we’re able to fly 7 days a week year-round, and can introduce our students to unique, real-world landing sites like pinnacles and ridgelines. And, thanks to our four season location, we can prepare our pilots for aircraft operations across a variety of environmental conditions. From snow covered landing areas in the winter to high density altitude in the summer. Very few schools have this level of diversity in conditions.

Helicopter Instructors and Fleet

Helicopter Instructors and Fleet

Meet our expert helicopter instructors and get to know the ins and outs of our training fleet.

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Aviation Degree Program

Aviation Degree Program

Earn your Aviation Science Degree while completing your helicopter flight training with Central Oregon Community College (COCC). 

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Flight Program Financing

Flight Program Financing

Discover what financing options are available to help you pay for helicopter training at Leading Edge Flight Academy.

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Elevate Your Skills

Advanced Helicopter Courses

Already a helicopter pilot? Leading Edge Flight Academy also provides add-ons for all ratings, including recurrent instrument and proficiency training. Learn to safely navigate mountain flying operations, expand your skill sets with night vision goggle (NVG) training, or gain sought-after external load skills. Our advanced helicopter courses provide the additional training you need to elevate your skills and advance your aviation career.

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Chart Your Course

Your Helicopter Pilot Career

Helicopter Career ROI

Your Helicopter Pilot Career

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  • In order to maximize knowledge, skill retention, and progression students should plan to be available at least five days per week and complete at least three training events per week. 
  • Your instructor will give you subject areas to study on your own time so you’re prepared for all flight, ground, and simulator training events. 
  • Time and costs vary depending on the individual, but a good starting estimate is $100k. Visit our financing page to learn more about your financing options.
  • The helicopter training program includes Private, Instrument, Commercial, Certified Flight Instructor, and Certified Flight Instructor Instrument ratings/certificates.
  • Program completion takes between 12 and 18 months, depending on schedule availability and rate of training progression. 

Flight career development opportunities

Flight Career Development Opportunities

Leading Edge Flight Academy graduates who go on to become LEFA instructors are recognized industry-wide for their talent and skill. We’ll work with you and our industry partners to provide job placement opportunities that are well-matched to your interests and ability.

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Aviation Partners

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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
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
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
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
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
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
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 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