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Reviews of Oregon Helicopter schools


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Leading Edge Aviation is the only school that I have any direct experience with. I started here last fall and now have my commercial and instrument certs, starting CFI in a few days. Nothing but great things to say about this school. Great safety record, great pass:fail ratio on students, very friendly staff, great instruction both on the ground and in the air. Also, if you're a veteran, the VA coordinator at the college is very friendly and easy to work with. She always gets us approved without delay so we can continue receiving benefits so we can continue on with training uninterupted. Overall, I'm glad I choose this school.

 

Never dealt with Jerry Trimble, but I hear the training is top notch, with very experienced instructors.

 

Again, no experience with them directly, but I hear some negative things about Hillsboro; aweful safety record, got into some trouble a while back about the way they were conducting their maintenance, instructors getting in trouble with the FAA for doing things they shouldn't.

 

If you have any questions about Leading Edge, send me a PM.

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It has been a few years, but I did my Commercial add-on and CFI training at Precision. Over all I was satisfied with them. I looked at Hillsboro, but my major issue with them was that they were more interested in the foreign students. And as for Applebee, getting a hold of them was hit or miss at best.

 

At the time Precision was not playing the game that Hillsboro was. Namely that they claimed they were cheaper than Precision and then they mentioned the fuel surcharge, which made them more expensive. Precision was holding the line on fuel costs. I do not if they are still doing that or not.

 

Dennis the owner is also a DPE and my checkride with him was complete and fair. My biggest problem with them was that they would give schedule priority to the school owned helicopters and then schedule the leased ones. Normally this is not a major deal, but it almost always seemed like the school ships ran out of time on the weekend.

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Did my CFI with Jerry at Jerry Trimble Helicopters MMV. I have nothing but good things to say about the program he has set up. If a small family run atmosphere with one of the most experienced guys out there is what you're looking for then it's a good fit. On top of it all JTH has one of the best prices around. Can't think of any drawbacks unless you don't want to spend time in McMinville.

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Jerry Trimble, hands down the best in OR. 30+yrs experience, factory mechanic/pilot for Frank when the Robbie was certified. FW/RW ATP/CFII with a lifetime in aviation (he actually started Hillsboro Helicopters way back when, when he sold it the new guy took it for a turn and it became HAI and the foreign pilot mill it is today). You won't get more for your money anywhere else, Jerry is top notch and is one of those guys who has forgotten more than I'll ever know. Has a couple of good CFIs working for him, Jerry does most of the Commercial/CFI training himself, he's got 2 HPs, a BII, and a Raven II. You'll get more 1 on 1 attention and network connections in a week at MMV with Jerry than in a month at HAI or anywhere else in OR.

 

PM me if you have more questions. I don't hesitate a nanosecond to recommend him.

 

HG03

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My experience is that a school is only as good as it's examiner is difficult. At any school, your CFI has likely come up through an examiner and teaches around those quirks that the examiner has. I've personally flow with DPE's that required an 8 hours oral for private (Mr. Lloyd) and had others that required 2 hours or a lot less. That's a big difference and since they are the "law of the land" I say that it doesn't matter if you go to a big school, a small school, a cheap school or an expensive school its simply the difficulty of the examiner. I also think that if you go to a school that is owned by an examiner that the student at that school can't get the better education than the student that goes to a school that is NOT owned by the examiner because the examiner must in some small way favor his own students. Also, if you are in a large metro area where you might have the lottery of 10 DPE's to be selected for you at random for your CFI rating I think you need to know the most and are a better pilot. I've always kept this in mind when I do hiring. None of the big schools can guarantee you a job, particularly if they are "accredited" which is not allowed in an "accredited" school. If a DPE runs the school he'll never pass the reins over to you to get a job to rebplace him as he can't. If it's a "mom and pop" type operation "pop" will always need a flying job and isn't going to step aside for you, either. Look carefully for a small school in Oregon that can guarantee you a job where the CFI, owner, chief pilot or DPE isn't competing to fly the helicopter that you otherwise would be flying. Look for another advertiser on this site that lists Oregon and you've found it.

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Hey all - wanted to toss my opinion into the mix. I've flown at all 3 of the major schools in the valley.

 

Precision had a friendly staff and a smaller operation, but they flew Schweizers. With your 1st job out of training most likly going to be flight instruction, and 90+% of the schools teaching in Robbies, this was a big turnoff to me.

 

Hillsboro is like a corporate zoo, and you'll be lucky if the Chief Pilot even knows your 1st name. I felt like just another number. With all the students from Europe and Asia running around it was difficult to get in and out of the airport and training sessions were shorter while paying a higher dollar with a less experienced CFI.

 

When I went to Jerry Trimble's operation in McMinnville I was impressed. I've flown with both Jerry and the other instructors and they all are knowledgable. Jerry is downright the man. With over a quarter century of experience and thousands of hours in the industry, he can relate any situation in training to a real life one. He is an A&P/IA, does all his own maintenance, and flys them - so you know the maintenance is done well.

 

The company definatly has a mom and pop feel to it. The CFI's bring their dogs to work, and there is a cat living in the hangar - even been to their house for dinner. I was very happy with all my experiences there and would reccommend it to anyone.

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Also, Precision is going downhill. I've heard good things about them in the past, as I've known a few pilots who have come out of the school, but as of the last year or so, things haven't been going good with the company.

 

Hillsboro is catered to the foreign students, so good luck getting flight time as a domestic student pilot (have known a couple people who experienced that situation, and they both ended up attending a different flight school.) Also, how many aircraft has Hillsboro crashed in the last 2-4 years? I lost count.

 

I don't have any info on the school in McMinnville, but it sounds very reputable from what some of the members here say about it.

 

I of course attend Leading Edge Aviation with Crashed_05, the second poster in this thread. Great school all around. No complaints yet. PPL rated and nearly complete with my instrument rating. They do have a college program here in Bend through Central Oregon Community College for an Associates degree in Aviation Science. Veterans benefits approved, to include the Post 9/11 G.I Bill.

 

It is a hit or miss on what size flight schools would be easier to get a job with once finished training. Smaller schools will have a small group of instructors, and more than likely a small group of students. Vice versa with a large flight school ; More instructors, but also a larger group of students.

 

It really comes down to when you finish your instructor rating(s), how many other pilots are applying for the instructor position(s), and how well you do on your interview.

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I agree with heligirl03 about JTH.

I have known Jerry Trimble for 10yrs and worked as a mechanic with him for 6 months. He is top notch. If he can hire you, he will but he won't guarantee you a position. Any school that tells you they will guarantee you a job when training is over is feeding you a line of BS. Go with JTH. If you have questions PM me.

 

Steve

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  • 1 year later...

I did my training with Leading Edge Aviation and have had a great time with them. I'd personally stay way from the huge schools like Hillsborough as they are like a production line I hear.Other end of the extreme - Jerry is great - with personal attention and lots of experience, but not sure what chances of employment are at such a small school.

 

I chose Leading Edge because it was the right size for me, the town of Bend is awesome, lots of high DA & mountain experience and the college course is great too. Downside - long way to Portland if you want some busy Charlie airspace experience. But Redmond tower is only 10 minutes way...

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I agree with Ragman on the size of a school not leading to a good probability of a hire but the timing of completion is key.

 

Precision is actually doing well, take a look at their website and their facebook and you can see what's going on there. I finished my training there up to my CFII and I think the location is great, the people are very friendly, and the training there is quality. Plus, they are also an actual commercial operation so you're always getting to see and hear about the operations which is great to have.

 

-James

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Hey there James,

 

I think I've spoke with you a time or two in the past! How are things going? That's AWESOME to see Precision back up and doing great! There were just a lot of things going on there for awhile that it didn't look like they were going to make it through alright. Dennis' son must have turned things around for them. Safe flying!

 

- Marc

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As stated above I can also highly recommend Jerry Trimble Helicopters. Jerry is a great guy and his helicopter knowledge is amazing. He and his wife Alison run an excellent operation in Mcminnville, with a family type atmosphere. KMMV is a nice training airport as well with great off airport landing spots nearby.

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 2 months later...

I have flown with all 3. I started training at Hillsboro and just like some of the other posters felt pretty lost in the crowd. I ended up switching to Jerry Trimble Helicopters for my commercial thru CFII ratings and couldn't have been happier. Not only is it a much friendlier environment were everyone knows you, it is $70 an hour cheaper for dual at Jerry's $214 for dual, $184 for solo with no fuel surcharges or other bs charges. Also, nothing against the European guys but it is a little easier getting trained by a native English speaker, especially for ground.

I went to Precision once to get an hour of training in a Schweitzer 300 and although the environment there seemed pleasant enough, I was very displeased by the way they charged me. The booked me for a 2 hour block and I flew for 1.2 hours. I was charged .8 for ground for the remaining time on the 2 hour block. I think that being charged ground for having a casual conversation with the flight instructor there when I was already a CFII myself is a shady business practice and it left a bad taste in my mouth from going to their school.

Go with Jerry Trimble if you are planning on doing your training in Oregon. Not only was his training better than at the other schools. Jerry recommended me to a pilot that had bought his own R-22 to be a flight instructor so I ended up with a great job for my first hours as an instructor. They will look out for your interests much more than a school like Hillsboro.

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  • 2 months later...

I have flown with at both Hillsboro Aviation and Jerry Trimble Helicopters. I was reasonably happy with Hillsboro Aviation, but having flown at JTH I would deffinatly choose JTH again. Its not only the attractive rate, but the atmosphere and the people there. Personal and high quality training.

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