Flight Trails was formed in 1974 as an aviation company with a full service and commercial flight operation. The company originally operated out of Palomar Airport just north of San Diego, California. In 1981 a subsidiary, Flight Trails Helicopters, was established with the primary purpose of supporting helicopter customization for the Hughes Helicopter Corporation. It became the world wide “go to” expert on all Hughes 269- and 369-series products, and became a service center for Hughes, supporting all aftermarket requirements for parts as well as overhauling of dynamic components.
Hughes Helicopters, the subsidiary managing the production of rotorcraft, licensed the production of the 269 models to Schweitzer Helicopter in 1981, moving that operation to Elmira, New York. Hughes Helicopters was later purchased by McDonnell Douglas Corporation in 1984, which opted to move the production of the 369 models from California to Mesa, Arizona. In 1987, Flight Trails Helicopters made the decision to also relocate its operation from California to Arizona to better support the completion process. Over 90 percent of the MD product line in operation today has been worked on by Flight Trails Helicopters.
Since moving its operation to Arizona, Flight Trails Helicopters has expanded from simply performing completions and aftermarket installations, to performing heavy maintenance repairs, periodic and overhaul maintenance and inspections, and avionics troubleshooting and installation. It has expanded from working exclusively on the MD 369/500 and 600 series helicopters, to include Bell 206 and 406 series. In addition, it now boasts a full radio and avionics shop equipped to handle a wide variety of instruments found in many fixed-wing aircraft and rotorcraft.