A Flight School Built by Pilots
The history of flight training at Hillsboro Aero Academy is a story of hard work and a love for flying that led to one of the most respected flight schools and communities of pilots in the world.
We’ve spent 37 years refining our helicopter and airplane flight training programs to help you turn your dream of flying into a career. Graduates from our school work for aviation companies around the globe, and our fleet includes over 90 aircraft that log over 70,000 annual flight hours.
We’re one of the largest combined helicopter and airplane flight training schools in the U.S., with students from over 75 countries across the world, but it wasn’t always that way.
Hillsboro Aero Academy, formerly Hillsboro Aviation, began as a one-helicopter flight school in 1980. The school grew as Hillsboro, Oregon thrived and airplane flight training was introduced early on.
With the acumen of an influential Harvard Business School grad and tight-knit team of career-minded pilots, Hillsboro grew into a worldwide name in the aviation industry. It did this through the success and reputation of its graduates who fly for airlines like Delta and TransAsia and helicopter companies like PHI and Columbia Helicopters.
Your success as a pilot has been vital to us from the start.
In 1992, Ed Cooley, a man who helped shape Oregon’s economic, cultural and educational landscape used his years as a Fortune 500 CEO to solidify Hillsboro’s professional future for everyone.
Cooley hired Max Lyons as GM and VP of operations because of his love for flying and knowledge of the surrounding environment. Max was a ground crew member for a Sikorsky S-64 Skycrane and began his pilot career when he enrolled in Hillsboro Aviation’s helicopter professional pilot program. Lyons spent time as a Hillsboro helicopter flight instructor and the manager of our foreign student pilot program — he also flew turbine helicopters for a variety of operations.
He used his experience as a pilot to lead the development of the school, ensuring students got professional training and Hillsboro’s reputation strengthened with each graduate entering the workforce. After leading the school for seven years as its general manager, Lyons purchased Hillsboro Aviation from Cooley and became president and CEO.
In November 2014, Lyons sold the flight school portion of Hillsboro Aviation to Renovus Capital Partners and Graycliff Partners, and Hillsboro Aero Academy was born.
Our name has changed, but the company is still run by pilots, for pilots.
Lyons retains minority ownership in this new company and Hillsboro Aviation’s former general manager, Jon Hay, serves as president and CEO of Hillsboro Aero Academy.
Jon knows airplanes and helicopters from repairing ailerons to creating flight plans. He began his career at Hillsboro Aviation as a maintenance shop intern while earning his A&P license at Portland Community College, then worked his way to the top. He supported school operations and helicopter firefighting contracts for nine years and served as the airplane charter lead mechanic, before starting the Robinson R22 overhaul department. Jon received his helicopter Private Pilot Certificate and a bachelor in aviation from Multnomah University. In 2014, Jon became the CEO and President of Hillsboro Aero Academy and uses his aviation experience to guide the school in a direction that’s best for its students.
Flying runs deep at Hillsboro and everyone here is in full support of getting you to your dream of flying.