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Hillsboro Heli Academy has been training helicopter pilots in the northwestern United States in Oregon since 1980. We train our pilots according to the requirements of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) under Part 141. Our F-1 Visa allows you to work as a pilot while gaining flight experience in the United States, for up to two years, after the completion of your flight training. The combination of our high quality flight training with a work permit makes Hillsboro Heli Academy the ideal school for future professional pilots.

You can complete our professional pilot program in 12 to 18 months. But if you already have flight experience, we will of course also be happy to draw up individual training plans.


Combined EASA and FAA training in the USA

In order to be successful as a helicopter pilot in Europe, you need many flight hours (500 or 1000) and an EASA license. With our combined FAA/EASA program on the F1 visa, we enable you to do both.​

During the training you will complete our FAA courses and at the same time an EASA ATPL theory online course, in which you will be supported by our team on site. All EASA exams can be written on site at our EASA Testing Center. You will also complete the flight training for the EASA CPL, so that at the end of the training you will have the full EASA CPL with ATPL (IFR) theory. 

Career Planing

To fly as a helicopter pilot and earn money with it is the dream of many of us. 

Of course, to get a job in this exciting industry it is important to have a good reputation, to have all the necessary certificates and above all you need to have enough flight hours in the log book. 
And that's why the training in the USA is worthwhile. Because you can work there as a pilot for up to two years after your training and easily get between 1200 and 1500 flight hours in the log book. 

Many of our graduates in Europe are now working as rescue helicopter or offshore pilots. However, some have also decided to stay in the USA and work here in various areas. 
In our blog, some of our alumni talk about their education at Hilsboro Academy, where they are today, and what they do.


Private Pilot License

The Private Pilot License (PPL) is the first step on your way to becoming a professional pilot. During this course you will learn to safely control a helicopter, navigate in airspace and fly the helicopter on solo flights without the flight instructor.

With the PPL, you will learn the theory and the flying skills to fly the helicopter safely alone. You practice maneuvers and emergency procedures for the first 20-30 hours. Then you do a stage check. On a stage check an experienced flight instructor tests your knowledge and skills and then you fly solo for the first time. Now there are several navigation flights, first with your CFI and then alone. When this is done, you practice flight maneuvers again and then have your final checkride with a pilot examiner. In the USA, the checkride consists of a written, an oral, and a flight exam.


Instrumental Flight


After completing the Private Pilot License, you have to collect around 100 hours of flight experience according to the FAA regulations before you can acquire your professional pilot license. This is the perfect time to acquire your instrument rating. This rating allows you to fly in bad weather and through clouds.

During the instrument training you will learn how to fly using the instruments. That means you fly with a "view limiting device," so you can't look out of the cockpit and only fly with reference to the instruments.

For this portion of your training you have to plan on about 35 flight/simulator hours plus theory time.


Commercial Pilot


During the commercial pilot training you will improve your flying skills and deepen your knowledge in all previously learned subject areas. Here you learn to land at previously unknown places - whether at airports, on the coast or in the desert. The Commercial Pilot License allows a pilot to fly helicopters for compensation or hire. This license enables you to work as a professional pilot in the USA.

In order to be able to take your FAA commercial checkride, you must have 100 "Pilot In Command" flight hours. However, this includes all solo flights during PPL training and all flight hours after the private checkride. After the IFR training, you will still have around 60 hours of flight time before you can complete the commercial checkride. During this time you can gain experience with long cross country flights, take advantage of our mountain or longline course, or take friends and family on a helicopter adventure.


Certified Flight Instructor

Most pilots start their careers as flight instructors. It is one of the few jobs that you can get with little flight experience and it helps you to deepen your skills and knowledge when teaching students. Flight instructors who have completed their flight instructor training with us are in high demand and we receive many inquiries from other flight schools that want to hire our graduates.


After your commercial training, you can start the flight instructor training. This is a very challenging course and you will have to work hard to complete the course. During theoretical training, you first learn didactic and pedagogical basics - then you start teaching classmates and teachers and provide feedback to your peers. In the helicopter, you learn to fly from the left seat while teaching and flying at the same time. To teach in the Robinson R22 as a flight instructor, you must have 200  helicopter flight hours and 50 flight hours in the R22.


Cost of training

Before choosing the right flight school, you should compare the schools in detail.

Price usually plays an important role in the search but you should also take into consideration what you will receive for your money and how much the cost of living is.

For example, many small schools only offer the M-1 Visa instead of the F-1 Visa. So you cannot work in the USA after completion of your flight training. This will result in additional costs for you to obtain the necessary flight hours.


​Our Professional Pilot Program costs around $ 82,000 for flight and ground training. Add to that your costs for living expenses, visa fees, travel, and the Robinson Safety Course that you need to be able to work as a flight instructor in the Robinson R22.


To get a more detailed price and to get more information about our flight school and career opportunities in the US, please contact us through the contact page!

FAA license conversion

Many pilots who complete their pilot training in Europe and Canada have the problem that they have too few flight hours to work as a pilot.

Hillsboro Heli Academy can help. We create individual training plans for pilots with EASA or Transport Canada licenses in order to enable a fast and inexpensive transfer to the FAA license. This training must take at least 6.5 months to qualify for our CPT and OPT and work in the United States. 

For more information on the description and a free consultation, please contact us via our contact page.

Why flight training in the US is better than in Europe


To be able to be successful as a pilot, you will need flight hours. Most jobs in Europe require at least 500 or even 1000 flight hours with almost no opportunities for low-hour pilots who just finished their flight training. In the United States, there are plenty of opportunities like flight instruction, tour operations, agriculture flying, or even some utility jobs, that low-hour pilots can take. Hillsboro Heli Academy offers the F-1 Visa which allows our graduates to work for up to two years after completing their training. During this period, pilots can fly up to 1200-1500 hours, which will improve their job chances in Europe significantly. 



Hillsboro Heli Academy is the only helicopter school in the US that offers combined FAA and EASA training and the F1 visa with a CPT and OPT.


This allows our graduates to work in the USA for up to two years after their training and gain flying experience. Many schools only offer the M1 visa, which does not allow you to work in the US, and other F1 visa schools only offer an OPT.


Hillsboro Aero Academy is the first Part 141 flightschool worldwide, to receive the “International Standard for Business Aircraft Operations" (IS/BAO) accreditation. This accreditation shows our commitment to safety and our safety management system, that is used to educate pilots and improve safe aircraft operations.




Hillsboro graduates are well known and respected all over the aviation industry. Since 1980, we trained thousands of pilots, who are willing to help future aviators start their career. To support our strong alumni community, we started a Facebook group for students and graduates to help each other with job postings and mentorship


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