By Joseph Ditzler

The Bulletin

Leading Edge Aviation Inc. has acquired a competitor flight services company in Bend to become the sole fixed-base operator at Bend and Redmond airports.

Leading Edge announced Wednesday it had acquired Professional Air, a fixed-base operator, maintenance provider and flight school based at the Bend Municipal Airport. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

Professional Air, incorporated in 2007, provided flight instruction and avionics and aircraft maintenance at Bend Municipal Airport. As a fixed-base operator, it provided fuel, hangars, de-icing and other services at the airport for arriving and departing aircraft.

Professional Air founder Gwil Evans said he sold the business for personal reasons and plans to spend more time with his family. He also plans to continue with a partner in a separate venture, Aero Facilities, a builder of custom hangars on 24 leased acres at the airport. About 30 percent of the development is built out, he said.

“It’s been 10 or 11 years now, and it’s finally come to life again in the last two to three years with the economic comeback,” he said.

Brad Fraley, president of Leading Edge, said the acquisition has been in the works since fall.

“It was kind of a mutual thing; we both knew that either of us would be interested,” Fraley said, “and I can’t remember who approached who.”

With the purchase of Professional Air and the acquisition of Butler Aircraft Services LLC of Redmond in September, Leading Edge becomes the sole fixed-base operator at the Bend and Redmond airports. Those operations will be rebranded as Leading Edge Jet Centers, Fraley said. The company plans enhanced services and extensive renovations at each facility, he said. Leading Edge assumed fixed-base operator services at Redmond Airport when it acquired Butler.

Leading Edge, which operates a flight school, also takes over the Professional Air flight school at Bend Municipal Airport, including students in the Central Oregon Community College aviation program. About 30 students in total were enrolled with Professional Air, according to Leading Edge.

“We’re always looking for opportunities to grow our company,” he said.

Taking over rival firms brings hard-to-find experience into Leading Edge, he said. With the acquisition of 26 Professional Air employees, Leading Edge has about 130 employees total, Fraley said. He said no layoffs resulted from the acquisition.

“It’s difficult to find good employees, and we are fortunate that Professional Air has some fine people,” he said.

The next step for Leading Edge is construction of a new helicopter flight school at the Bend Municipal Airport, part of continuing improvements on the northeast corner of the airfield. A $4.9 million project there created a dedicated heliport last year. Fraley said Leading Edge hopes to build the new helicopter facility there by fall.

— Reporter: 541-617-7815,