Westporter takes aviation company to new heights
WESTPORT — Learning to fly can be a moment of great fear for some, but for one Westporter it was a moment of inspiration.
An adrenaline-filled experience in the air drove Lewis Liebert to start what would become his own aviation company in 2007 — Performance Flight.
“I was looking to learn to fly and couldn’t really find a great solution I liked,” the 46-year-old Westport resident said. “I observed it as a niche that other people like me would be looking for high-quality flight training.”
Liebert said he was originally looking into transportation services when he happened to take an introductory flight.
“The funny part about this originally I was quite scared to fly,” he said. “I would fly 40 to 50 times a year commercially, and I would cancel trips or reschedule all the time for weather. I was really a nervous flyer.”
Liebert, a self-described adrenaline junkie, proceeded with the opportunity and was immediately inspired.
“It presented a business opportunity to me,” he said. “I started observing a niche in flight training for high-end solution.”
Performance Flight, which started as a flight school, has since grown into a full-service aviation company, offering flight training, aircraft management, maintenance, pilot services and more. There is also a staff office in Westport.
On May 1, the company launched the next chapter as it cut the ribbon on a new, larger facility. Located at Westchester County Airport, the new 4,000-square-foot facility was created to offer an improved experience for clients.
Liebert said the evolution of his company came with a lot of people wanting not only flight training, but to purchase air crafts.
“No pun intended, but it kind of took off,” he said of his business.
Performance Flight offers a customized program that is tailored to each client, Liebert said.
“Some people want a three hour lesson, some want an all day lesson,” he said. “It’s very flexible.”
The company has gone on to train hundreds of pilots ranging from six-time Major League All-Star and World Series Champion Bobby Bonilla to multiplatinum artist Josh Groban. Liebert said seeing the success of his company is gratifying.
“My company is my other family,” he said. “I think of them as my brothers, my sisters, my children. It’s made it an incredibly special place.”
Many flight schools are started by people who were already pilots, Liebert said, so his entry into the the business provided him an outside perspective.
Liebert became Performance Flight’s first student, allowing him to experience the same program future students would and reinvent flight training, he said.
“That’s been the backbone of the flight school,” he said. “Over the years we’ve continued to revolutionize what we’re doing.”
The new facility features high-tech classrooms outfitted with smartboards to launch its Next Gen teaching program, which incorporates multimedia to create an immersive experience for clients.
In addition to the success of his business, Liebert said he has enjoyed watching clients learn how to fly.
“Having spent my life in the business-to-business world, it’s very satisfying to be in an environment where you can facilitate the accomplishment of goals,” he said. “There’s just so many milestone accomplishments and it’s fun to be a part of that.”