BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- When it comes to learning to fly helicopters or planes, what you might not know is that 25% of all flight students in the state of Oregon train in Bend, at Leading Edge Flight Academy.
Luke Paren, one of their young instructors, showed me some of the controls. But don't be fooled: He has been flying since 2012.
"So I have about seven students myself right now, but we get people that are fresh out of high school," Paren said. "We get a lot of veterans from the military using their benefits. But then, we also have people who have retired and just want to take up flying."
If you want to come see what its like to fly, it's really easy. It is called a "discovery flight." They typically last for 30 minutes to an hour. You sit in one seat and the instructor in the other, and find out if flying is for you.
Paren showed me the basics controls of a Cessna, the workhorse airplane for training here.
"Yoke is going to be our main control," he said. "We can pull back to go up and push forward to go down. Roll left and right. And our feet are actually going to be how we ... taxi. If we push these side to side, that's how are are going to steer while we are on the ground."
Leading Edge Flight Academy has about 250 students. About 150 of them are there to train on airplanes, or fixed wing as they call it. The rest are there for helicopters, or what they refer to as rotor wing.
However, not all the training is just flying. Students still need to learn some pretty technical book knowledge along the way
Some of the elements that make Central Oregon a great spot to learn to fly are our sunny days. But also the weather, mountains and topography.
It takes two years and about $75,000 to complete a pilot's education. Leading Edge works with Central Oregon Community College, so students can leave with an associate's degree.