Student Voices from the Pacific Northwest

When I was a kid I lived next to a small, quit airport. During the summer (fire season) it transformed into a busy staging ground for helicopter operations. Watching the aircraft take off and come home after successful missions I knew I wanted to fly.
Years later, when I began researching programs, I visited several schools including Leading Edge Aviation. After meeting with the staff and taking a demo flight in Central Oregon I knew Leading Edge aviation was right for me. The instructors are top notch, pilots/students have a direct relationship with the maintenance staff, and Leading Edge Aviation graduates get the best jobs.

Austin L., Eastern Oregon

I started looking for a flight-training program in the United States because Colombia has limited training options. When I discovered Leading Edge Aviation, visited the school and met the staff I was blown away. You see pictures of Bend being beautiful, but it’s better to be here. I love it. Leading Edge Aviation is very professional and made the visa application process very easy by walking me through the whole thing.
Now that I’m here I can’t imagine learning to fly anywhere else. Leading Edge Aviation gives me the chance to fly in the mountains and in low temps, which will help me when I return home to Colombia.

Alex R. Bogota, Colombia

I first considered flight training when I was fighting fires in Southern Oregon. After speaking with some Forestry Fire pilots, I was inspired to learn about flight schools. It became clear very quickly that Leading Edge Aviation had the best flight training program around. I met with staff, took a demo flight, and was incredibly impressed when they called a week later to see if I had any more questions.
As a military veteran, they helped me apply and receive funding for my training through the Post 9/11 GI Bill and COCC aviation program. The program was a great balance between classroom work and flying.”

Andrew L. Medford, Oregon


Success Stories


Jordan Kunhmuench
Fire & Short Haul Helicopter Pilot for JR Helicopters

“Currently, 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 and 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!”


Will Lawrence
Air Ambulance Pilot for Air Methods Corporation

“We provide 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. The helicopter is ready to fly 24/7 365 days a year, staffed by four pilots, a mechanic and a handful of medical personnel. Our base in located in Osage Beach Missouri. Air Methods has over 330 base in 48 states (excluding Hawaii and Oregon).

The education I received from Leading Edge and COCC prepared me in all aspect 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 (previous 4 years experience). I also received an Associates degree in Aviation Sciences through COCC which makes my resume stand out to employers.”


Chris Darling
Fixed-wing Instructor Pilot, Leading Edge Aviation

“I thoroughly enjoyed my training at Leading Edge. Scheduling flights was easy because helicopters are plentiful in the fleet (and the airplane fleet is growing), and I found the instructors to be uniformly enjoyable to work with. The instructors I flew with all had great attitudes and were focused on ensuring I learned everything that I needed to know. My favorite memory of my training period is my first solo flight in an R-22 helicopter, which I remember as if it were just yesterday. Flying helicopters is difficult, but it was so satisfying to be able finally control one by myself.

I was very focused in my training and I completed the helicopter curriculum in sixteen months. At the time I finished… I took that opportunity to continue my training on the fixed-wing side and completed my airplane certificates through certified flight instructor-instrument in 2016… I accepted a job offer from Leading Edge Aviation to serve as an airplane flight instructor in October 2016, and I’m now building hours fast toward my goal of becoming a professional aviator.”