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Hillsboro Aviation CEO honoured at Living Legends awards
Aviator, business owner, philanthropist, adventurer and family man Max Lyons has received the Elling Halvorson Vertical Flight Hall of Fame award. He continues to serve as owner and CEO of Hillsboro Aviation.
Max Lyons received the Elling Halvorson Vertical Flight Hall of Fame Award that honours individuals who have had a major impact on the world of vertical flight.
Read this story in our April 2023 printed issue.

Oregon-based full service rotary and fixed wing operator Hillsboro Aviation owner and CEO Max Lyons was honoured at the 20th annual Living Legends of Aviation awards event in Los Angeles. Lyons received the Elling Halvorson Vertical Flight Hall of Fame Award, that honours individuals who have had a major impact on the world of vertical flight.

Lyons is an aviator, business owner, philanthropist, adventurer and devoted family man. A fourth generation logger from the Pacific Northwest, Lyons first encountered helicopters in 1974 as a hooker underneath Sikorsky S-64 Skycranes before embarking on a global 18 month, 42,000 mile solo backpacking trip. In 1983, he returned to aviation by beginning helicopter flight training at Hillsboro Aviation. In 1992 Ed Cooley, former CEO of Precision Castparts and Lyons' mentor, bought Hillsboro Aviation and promoted Lyons to COO.

In 1999, Lyons and his wife, Carol, purchased the company. Over the following two decades, he grew Hillsboro Aviation into an internationally recognised brand and one of the most diverse aviation companies in the US. The company expanded to more than 285 employees and 90 aircraft, conducting business with customers from over 75 countries and becoming one of the largest privately held pilot training schools in the world, training over 10,000 students. In 2014, Lyons sold the flight training division, allowing Hillsboro Aviation to shift its focus to its contract and charter, sales and service. Throughout this entire time he mentored countless professionals, seeing many excel in aviation careers.

"Max started at the bottom, and he worked his way up the ladder," says Brenda Halvorson, co-presenter of the Elling Halvorson Vertical Flight Hall of Fame Award. "He took the risk of purchasing an aviation company on his own and pioneered its growth. Lyons has a passion for aviation and loves adventure."

Lyons continues to serve as owner and CEO of Hillsboro Aviation. He is dual rated in helicopters and aircraft, including commercial instrument helicopter, single and multi-engine aircraft, instrument aircraft and multi-engine seaplane. Lyons' flight experience includes instruction, aerial firefighting, search and rescue, aerial survey and an array of utility operations. He has held positions as chairman of the board for Helicopter Association International and as board member for Portland Community College Foundation. When not at work, you can find him flying his 1953 Beaver, MD 500 or Lockwood Aircam in the San Juan Islands, fixing up his 1938 Indian, mentoring the next generation of aviators and spending time with his wife of 36 years, daughters and two dogs.

Hosted by John Travolta, the Living Legends of Aviation awards event honours the biggest names in aviation and aerospace. Fellow honourees have included Jack Erickson, Buzz Aldrin, Bill Anders, Chuck Aaron, Clay Lacy, Harrison Ford, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Morgan Freeman, Kenny G, William Shatner and Tom Cruise.

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