Student Testimonials

After training with 2 other schools in California for a couple of months, I finally met the requirements to train with the Pacific North Helicopter Academy! I met with Claudio and Danny and was immediately impressed with their no nonsense approach and professionalism. Claudio’s background and his extensive knowledge in all things aviation (not just helicopters) is remarkable. After my first conversation with Claudio, I knew the Pilot Academy is where I belonged and I have been extremely happy with my training thus far.

I have been training with Danny for some time now. His lesson plans are organized, his instruction is easy to follow and I look forward to our weekly sessions. Now that I am with the Pilot Academy, I realized how much I was missing with the “other” schools. With the Pilot Academy, they require a level of comprehension that surpasses other schools. Danny always ensures I comprehend the information, and can apply them real world, rather than just regurgitate the information for testing purposes.

I highly recommend Pacific North Helicopter Academy for those wishing to get their pilots license, you wont be disappointed.

– Brian Bandy

 As a student at Pacific North Helicopter Academy training has exceeded my expectations.
Flight and ground lessons are tailored to the individual student while maintaining the part 141 syllabus. The instructors are knowledgeable and encourage a positive and safe learning environment. Development of analytical thinking and problem solving skills are part of the curriculum. As a student who is financing his own flight instruction it was very important that I was allowed to progress at my own pace.

Training in the Lake Tahoe region allows the student to experience mountainous weather and learn how to properly manage helicopter power at high altitudes. Quality of flight time was central to my decision to enroll in this school. I would recommend Pacific North Helicopter Academy to anyone interested in helicopter training.

– David Sidorski

I came to Pacific North Helicopter Academy because it was my husband’s dream to fly and I wanted to share that dream with him.  What I developed from Claudio is my own passion for flying.  His approach to teaching- developing the entire pilot with a strong foundation of education intertwined with flying skills- was inspiring and instrumental in my learning.  I don’t have a mechanical background, nor had I studied aerodynamics.  Between Claudio and the other instructor’s classroom education, I began to understand the marvel of flying helicopters as well as developed a deep appreciation for becoming a complete pilot- someone who masters not only the flying skills, but who also is equipped with the knowledge to make life-altering decisions.   I can’t thank Claudio and his team enough for their instruction.  Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be a pilot, and thanks to them, I am!

– Stephanie B.

 Pacific North Helicopter Academy is the epitome of perfection. They set the bar when it comes to instruction and professionalism. Claudio inspires his students and motivates them to be the very best in the aviation industry. He doesn’t settle for anything less than himself, putting his instruction above all others. When it comes to flight instruction, most of the time you have newly certified instructors teaching the new students. In this case, if you have one bad seed, many more are born.  Pacific North Helicopter Academy makes sure the seeds they plant are not only well above the average pilot’s skill and knowledge, but also make an impact on the industry itself. If you are looking for the most in-depth training and quality, Pacific North Helicopter Academy is the place to be. They pride themselves on their comprehensive lessons and level of expertise. The instructors take the time to take a deep look into the real characteristics of flight principle. Myself, being taught at another school, which is well known for being a top grade school. They didn’t provide the maximum amount of knowledge that the Pilot Academy has provided for me. Furthermore, the tour pilot with parent company Pacific North Helicopters is to the same standard as Claudio and the schooling. An intelligent experienced pilot that gives outstanding tours of the lake. So whether you are looking for instruction or a great time and view over the lake, HVA will provide only the best of quality. In summary, the Pilot Academy  is everything you want out of a school and business. Great personalities with the extra edge of insight to flight theory and the industry itself. I personally set the Pilot  Academy on the top of the list and highly recommend it to anyone looking to start or continue their aviation career.

-Carl D.

If you are looking for a school that is straight forward and doesn’t beat around the bush or take advantage of you then you’ve found the right school…finally!!
Before I started flying at
Pacific North Helicopter Academy, I didn’t realize how effective the program was. The experience I received was enough for me to go out into the world and teach any person the basics of aerodynamics and gradually work the student up to advanced aerodynamics.
As a student and a potential instructor, the type of training used at this school teaches and demands the students to be fully involved both physically and mentally. The students learn all of the necessary skills to be a proficient pilot in the real world. You will INDEPENDENTLY be able to make good decisions, multitask, flight plan, interpret weather fast and accurately, mountain landings, coordinate certain jobs with the customers, maintenance, fast reaction and problem-solving, advanced flying maneuvers at high altitudes etc… If you go to a regular flight school you’ll never ever learn these kinds of skills like students at
Pacific North Helicopter Academy, simply due to the fact that most school like to take advantage of unfortunate students who don’t know better by providing students with false/broken promises. That is why the instructors at the Pilot Academy advise you to check out other schools before making your decision as to which school you prefer.
This school helps you prepare for all your flight exams (Private, Commercial, Instrument, CFI, CFII), the Pilot  Academy prepares you to be a real helicopter pilot for you future.

-Alexander I.

I came to Pacific North Helicopter Academy in September 2013 for a helicopter rating add-on to my pilot’s certificate, with intentions to go all the way through CFII.  After my first few flights in Minden with Harry and then talking to Claudio in South Lake, I knew this was the school for me.  Their emphasis is on producing professional aviators, not just certified pilots.  They do this through excellent one-on-one instruction, a comfortable & fun but professional environment, and high training standards.  Harry got me ready for my PPL checkride in under three months and I jumped right into Instrument & Commercial.
I came from flying F-15Es for the U.S. Air Force for ten years, the last four of which I was an instructor.  I can confidently say that the training provided
Pacific North Helicopter Academy rivals the quality of training for U.S. fighter pilots.  The operation run by Claudio and the rest of the instructors at Pacific North Helicopter Academy is first-rate.

-John P.

I met Claudio about a year before I began training with Pacific North Helicopter Academy. In the first 5 minutes of meeting this one of a kind man, I knew that the Pilot  Academy was the school I was going to end up at. Having begun my private license in southern California, I waited to finish up my private check ride, then decided to make the move to South Lake Tahoe. In that year I spent in southern California, Claudio made a conscious effort to keep in touch with me and remain updated on where I was in my training. He made sure I asked the school all the right questions, was getting the proper training, and most importantly getting my money’s worth.

When I began training with Pacific North Helicopter Academy, I was quick to realize how structured, focused, educating, and fun this new school was going to be. I was immediately impressed with Claudio’s knowledge, ground lessons, simple tips while flying that made a world of a difference, divine attention to the student, and most importantly; his sense of humor.

The instructors and the students have such an awesome relationship. This is an extremely competitive business that we as students, are entering. Pacific North Helicopter Academy‘s “family” of instructors and students have a way of making all this hard work, really fun hard work. Everybody’s positive attitude, encouragement, and mentioned before – sense of humor, takes away any pressure or feelings of doubt. Being one of the only females at this school, even I feel welcome and so happy in this environment.

I love all of these guys to death, this crew will keep you on your toes, keep you laughing, and make you more educated than you probably thought possible. My confidence as a pilot is constantly growing as I surround myself with extremely knowledgeable and talented pilots. I never thought I would make it as far as I have, thank you to Claudio for believing in me. Not to mention, flying over Lake Tahoe is one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. That is when you know you have the most amazing “office” in the world.

– Jessie

Over the course of several years, I have been lucky to meet Claudio and work with him in this industry. He is a great pilot and instructor, but the thing that sets him apart to me, is his passion and skill for training others — “I can hear it in his voice”. I actually use this to help train my instructors to be the best CFI’s they can be. Most flight schools spend a lot of time worrying about this or that and not taking the time to teach instructors how to actually “teach” in the cockpit and on the ground. It is a special skill and one that Claudio has mastered. Take the time to see for yourself what it is to be good as an instructor and visit Claudio and his operation. We feel so good about him that we actually send our students to learn Mountain flying from him when we are only 1.5 hours away.

–Chris Gularte

Several students and I are just finishing our private training with Claudio at Pacific North Helicopter Academy I can’t praise him enough for the excellent job he does. Training first-rate and safe pilots is Claudio’s first love and highest priority, even though he has thousands of hours and could choose other commercial pursuits. Claudio sets very high ethical standards — he is almost obsessive about using time efficiently (he is very proud that his students pass check rides with lower hours than the national averages), and has shunned any business model that depends on large up-front commitments that trap students. Claudio is demanding but patient, and very safety oriented (he is also the FAA safety representative for KTVL where he operates). The South Lake Tahoe R44-based training location provides mountain flying awareness and experience (every hour is considered mountain flying time).


I recently had the opportunity to spend some time with Claudio at Pacific North Helicopter Academy . I was able to observe, in depth, the way in which he teaches his students. Claudio is extremely dedicated to giving his students the absolute best training possible, without wasting the student’s time and money. Claudio’s motto is: “the cockpit is not a classroom” and thus he places extreme importance on ground instruction so that the student is very clear on the maneuver to be performed before they ever get in the air. The atmosphere at the school is very relaxed and every student helps each other, just like a family. Claudio has the highest training standards I’ve ever seen at a helicopter flight school and he tells it like he sees it but you never feel intimidated. If you are willing to work your tail off, and can handle complete honesty, Claudio is the instructor for you! Claudio trains all his students to nearly CFI level and all of his students pass their check rides well below the average hours in the industry. I had the pleasure of teaching ground school for a few hours with Claudio in the room and I must say, my knowledge was put to the test. Claudio is an incredible source of practical helicopter and airplane knowledge which he has gained through thousands of flight hours. But see for yourself.


I knew that Pacific North Helicopter Academy was the place where I wanted to learn to fly half way through my first meeting with Claudio. I am sure I made the right decision because I have had nothing but positive experiences here. From that first meeting on, Claudio has been very generous with his time and resources, including letting me hang around the office two days a week for about three months while I got all of my finances together. For not a lot of work, Claudio let me ride back-seat during a lot of training sessions and sit in on a good amount of ground instruction, which I believe gave me a huge head start on my training and really gave me a healthy respect, bordering on awe, of Claudio’s deep understanding and skill as a pilot and teacher. Watching him at the white board or in the cockpit can be equally impressive.
I have now begun my training at the Minden, NV branch in the Robinson R22 and it has so far been the most challenging and rewarding investment of my time and money that I have ever undertaken. Christian, Claudio’s right hand man, has been all I could ask for in an instructor; he is highly experienced and skilled, and very methodical in the way he approaches teaching. He is willing to match your effort step for step and his flexible work schedule has allowed me to fly three times a week while still working more than full time.
I could probably go on for a long while but I will end with this: if you are serious about flying and want to go to a school where you will be embraced as a friend, student and, most importantly, pilot, you need to come to Pacific North Helicopter Academy
 and check out the best kept secret in the helicopter training industry.

– Harry King

My sincere thanks to Claudio and the instructors at Pacific North Helicopter Academy  for helping me realize my dream of adding a rotorcraft rating to my private pilot’s license. I started in ’07 down in Watsonville, but ran low on funds and ended up taking a year and a half off from flying. Getting back in the air at the Minden, NV branch of the Pilot Academy has been a great experience. My training at Minden has provided invaluable high altitude experience which really makes you intimately aware of the helicopter’s capabilities and limitations.

Christian von der Heyde, the Minden branch instructor, is extremely professional and dedicated to his profession. Watching him teach, one can see just how much he loves flying and passing on his expansive knowledge to his students. He is very patient and he really tailors his teaching technique to each individual student. December 24th, 2009 I passed my helicopter private pilot check ride with an FAA examiner. The examiner also made a point of telling me I had a very good instructor and he seemed very impressed with the professionalism of Pacific North Helicopter Academy.

I can’t recommend Pacific North Helicopter Academy enough and I look forward to many more hours with them as I have just started my instrument training.

– Wendy

I’ve done some flight hours with Claudio and Christian at Lake Tahoe and Minden. Both of them are very safety-conscious flight instructors. Together they are a good combination for me. I really liked that you get extremely time efficient and professional training. Claudio is a very experienced and safety oriented flight instructor. In addition he is demanding, but that’s exactly what you want to get from an instructor.
The Pilot  Academy is the best way to learn advanced helicopter skills. They place emphasis on personal one to one instruction; consequently you get the training adapted to your personal desires. With the Pilot Academy you learn the important things to fly helicopters, not just the required standards. “Let’s do it like this, so you can save money and time” is one of Claudio’s favorite sayings.

– Matthias

I absolutely love doing flight training in South Lake Tahoe, as the scenery, flying and weather are great. Here at the Pilot  Academy, this flight training is perfect for anything you want or need in order get your pilot’s license. We all get along like one big happy family at the school. We have some of the best flight instructors in the field. It is absolutely fun doing everything you learn. There is never a day you won’t enjoy if flying it is your passion.

– Jamie


Tours & Charters

(530) 214-0711

[email protected]
[email protected]

Helicopter Academy

(530) 544-2211
[email protected]

Turin Alps European Branch

+39 (340) 283-2051
[email protected]

Truckee Airport

12219 Business Park Drive, Suite 12
Truckee, CA 96161

South Lake Tahoe Airport

1901 Airport Road
South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150

Rio Vista Airport

3000 Baumann Road, Suite D
Rio Vista, CA 94571

Turin Alps European Branch

Via San Francesco D’Assisi 22
Turin, 10121 Italy