Founded in 1980, the company was originally called Hillsboro Helicopters and began operations in Hillsboro, Oregon, an agricultural town 15 miles west of Portland. As Hillsboro’s landscape changed with the introduction of several large technology companies, Hillsboro Helicopters steadily built its helicopter and airplane business. Then in 1992, Ed Cooley, former CEO and chairman of Precision Castparts Corporation, purchased the company. Precision Castparts, a Fortune 500 company and the world’s leader for over 40 years in the manufacturing of jet engine castings, blades and fans, continues to be one of Oregon’s largest companies.
When Cooley purchased the company, Max Lyons was hired as the GM and vice president responsible for operations. Lyons comes from a fourth-generation lumber family, and his first involvement with the helicopter industry came in 1974 as a ground crew member for a Sikorsky S-64 Skycrane. His flying career began when he enrolled in Hillsboro Aviation's helicopter professional pilot program. In 1988, Hillsboro Aviation hired Lyons as a helicopter flight instructor and the manager of its foreign student pilot program. Later, Lyons became a charter pilot flying turbine helicopters for a variety of operations.
Lyons and Cooley, a Harvard Business School graduate, took the formerly pilot-owned school into the world of business philosophy, implementing large company practices to help track and increase growth. The company expanded its portfolio to include a sales and service division and a charter division. In 1996, the company name was changed to Hillsboro Aviation, Inc. to better reflect the full scope of the company’s services. After leading the organization for seven years as its general manager, Lyons purchased Hillsboro Aviation from Cooley and became its president and CEO.
Today, Hillsboro Aviation employs over 70 people and is made up of two core business groups which consist of eight separate revenue centers. The company’s fleet includes 13 turbine aircraft. Hillsboro Aviation has established its position as a U.S. leader in helicopter sales and one of the Northwest's largest combined helicopter and airplane charter operators with a fleet of Bell helicopters and Hawker Beechcraft King Airs working throughout the U.S. Hillsboro Aviation is a dealer for Cessna and the Robinson Helicopter Company and specializes in the sale of Bell helicopters. Hillsboro Aviation provides MRO services, avionics equipment sales and installations, FBO and fueling services and aircraft parts.