Customer Spotlight on Leading Edge Aviation and Flight Academy

Bend, Oregon—ranked among the top ten places to live in the United States—is an outdoors paradise and home to Leading Edge Flight Academy (LEFA) and Leading Edge Aviation. This Pacific Northwest city enjoys more than 300 days of sunshine per year, providing the perfect location for flying.

For nearly 20 years LEFA has specialized in training students to become professional helicopter and airplane pilots, preparing them for a rewarding career in aviation. For individuals who are not looking for a career in aviation but want to fulfill their dream of learning to fly, the company’s Apex program teaches fixed wing pilots how to safely fly in the general aviation sector.

Oregon-based Leading Edge Aviation's 206L3
One of two 206L3 LongRangers in Oregon-based Leading Edge Aviation’s fleet. Both are flying VHA tail rotor blades.

While the flight school prepares a new generation of aviators, Leading Edge Aviation, which was the first aerial tour provider in Bend, offers aerial solutions and charter flights. Services include aerial filming, photography and surveys, fire support, search and rescue, construction, powerline patrol and LIDAR, seismic and exploration, and electronic news gathering. Leading Edge Aviation enjoys the challenge of taking your ideas and making them a reality. Its custom helicopter tours and charters can take you anywhere your imagination can. The sky is the limit!

Leading Edge's 206B JetRanger
Leading Edge’s 206B JetRanger sporting an early set of two-striped VHA tail rotor blades.

Leading Edge has a fleet of 28 aircraft.  Their helicopter fleet is composed of Bell 407GXs, 206L3s, a 206B, and Robinson R-44s and R-22s. A fleet of Cessna 172 Skyhawks, two Beechcraft Bonanzas and a Beechcraft Baron support the airplane flight school. And for state-of-the-art simulator training, there is a set of FRASCA advanced aviation training devices that offer cockpit replicas of the Robinson R44 and Cessna 172. The Bells are used primarily for firefighting and charter work as well as turbine transition courses for students. Custom courses from Night Vision Goggles training, external load operations, and mountain flying are available to meet any pilot’s aspiration for growth.

JetRanger with VHA main and tail rotor blades
A newer photo of Leading Edge’s JetRanger shows VHA 206B Version 1 main rotor blades (note only one trim tab) in addition to three-striped VHA tail rotor blades.

Leading Edge’s Bell 206B is equipped with both Van Horn Aviation main rotor and tail rotor blades. Their two Bell L3s have the VHA tail rotor blade upgrades giving these helicopters the safety margin needed in this high and hot environment.

“I remember flying the JetRanger after switching main rotor blades, and the difference was immediately noticeable,” said LEFA Flight School Director and 206 charter pilot Nicole Wolf. “From handling and maneuverability to increased performance for external load training, it only took a lap or two to get comfortable and love the new blades.”

Leading Edge Director of Operations Chris Jordan explained, “We are based at 3,460 feet in Bend with off airport landing sites at upwards of 8000 feet. With surrounding mountainous terrain and high-density altitudes, the Van Horn Aviation upgrades are essential to the safety of our operations.”

Chief Pilot Andrew Lawrence says about the VHA blades, “They’re much more effective and enhance safety.”

Leading Edge is an FAA Part 133, 135, and 137 approved air carrier for helicopters. It maintains a Part 145 repair station, serves as a Robinson Helicopter Company-authorized overhaul facility, and holds Region 6 Call When Needed (CWN) contracts with the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) and U.S. Forest Service (USFS).

To share the joy of aviation with the Central Oregon community, LEFA offers Aviation Summer Camps each year for ages 16 and up. They will be offering two camps in the summer of 2022. Each camp holds up to 10 students who will receive four days of ground, simulator, and flight training in both fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft. 

Photo of Leading Edge Aviation employees in hangar
Leading Edge Aviation team of pilots, maintainers, front office personnel, and other aviation professionals.