Sundance Helicopters partners with UND Aerospace for pilot development initiative

Sundance Helicopters, Inc., in partnership with The John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences at the University of North Dakota (UND Aerospace), announced the SkyPath program to the university’s helicopter students and staff during the 37th Annual Student Aviation Management Association’s (SAMA) Aerospace Conference and Career Fair.

Students discovered more about the SkyPath program which defines a career pathway for future professional aviators and also ensures a consistent, efficient, and effective pipeline for Sundance Helicopters and industry partners to secure operationally-ready and highly-qualified helicopter pilots.


“UND Aerospace is an established, highly professional program that is a great match for SkyPath,” said Mark Schlaefli, director of operations for Sundance Helicopters. “Our goal is to provide future helicopter pilots the training and development they need to be successful in the commercial aviation world from their very first day of flight training.

“This program will allow us to actively participate in the development of our future pilots, and provide aspiring aviators a defined path from zero hours of experience to their dream job.”

Through the SkyPath approach, a pilot candidate would apply for the program via select 141 partner flight schools such as UND Aerospace. As the pilot progresses through ratings, they are evaluated for their performance.

The second phase of the program begins once a pilot candidate has earned their commercial pilot certificate. At this stage, the pilot candidate is interviewed by a panel of evaluators from both Sundance Helicopters and the flight academy and accepted into the program.

“As a former helicopter flight instructor at UND Aerospace, it is exciting to see this significant opportunity for our helicopter students solidified with a prominent industry partner like Sundance Helicopters,” stated Odegard School Dean Paul Lindseth. “We look forward to this beneficial relationship!”

Once accepted, the pilot candidate continues through the remaining ratings at the University of North Dakota and eventually progresses into the instructional phase as a Certified Flight Instructor.  After a period of dual given and once the Part 135 minimums are met, he or she will be eligible for a guaranteed interview with Sundance Helicopters.

Successful completion of the program, the required experience and the interview will guarantee the pilot candidate a training slot during the hiring season.

Future plans for the program include an Initial Operating Experience phase, which will emphasize experience over flight hours and will provide advanced training and mentoring that results in career path acceleration while adding additional layers of safety, training and mentoring.


These steps will ensure that Sundance Helicopters has actively taken a role in the development and training of pilots from the very beginning of their careers, instilling Sundance Helicopters’ core value of safety and emphasizing decision making and PIC culture.

SkyPath Pilot Program graduates will gain valuable experience flying with Sundance Helicopters. Sundance is a career choice in itself with the variety of potential duties and advancement opportunities. The program has also secured participation from other helicopter industry segments to provide SkyPath pilots with additional opportunities as their experience grows.

For those interested in Helicopter Air Ambulance (HAA) there is a pathway to Air Methods Corporation, the largest operator of air medical transport in the world.

For pilots with utility work as a career goal, we are proud to announce that Redding Air Service, a trusted provider of utility services since 1957 will be one of Sundance Helicopters’ partners and participants in the program.

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