Meet Us

Our Conviction

We were created with a love for people and a passion to serve.

 

Our Mission

To inspire and enable aviation dreams –
one relationship, one aircraft, and one flight at a time.

 

Because we love people and believe in aviation’s power to enrich and transform lives, we invest in helping people successfully integrate aviation into their lives so that they can realize the freedom, opportunity, beauty, adventure, community, and achievement that aviation brings.

 

 

Bill Heckathorn

President/Founder

Bill started Performance Aircraft in 2004 after gaining experience as a flight instructor, FBO manager, and new and used aircraft sales representative. His company vision was to leverage the power of internet and technology to improve the customer experience, and his original slogan read, “Selling aircraft through integrity, innovation, and knowledge.”

Given his background in the industry, Bill understands the ins and outs of aircraft ownership, positioning and marketing aircraft, and working with overseas buyers. He offers special insight into the late model Cessna and Cirrus markets, and he really enjoys helping first time aircraft owners understand and enjoy aircraft ownership.

With a vision to enable others to enjoy the benefits of flight through top quality, safety first pilot training, Bill expanded Performance Aircraft in 2006 by opening a flight training center. Located at the Lincoln Municipal Airport (KLNK) in Lincoln, NE, Performance Aircraft offers professional flight training, aircraft rental, and the Performance Pilot Club.

Bill and his wife Sarah have three girls, Molly, Jenna, and Jacie. In addition to aviation, Bill enjoys fishing, boating, and serving in his church.

Katie Ulrich

Vice President

As Vice President, Katie oversees day-to-day business operations and new growth directives for the company. With a bachelor’s degree in communications and extensive experience as a senior business leader, Katie has a knack for organizational strategy, online marketing and communications, and cross-functional collaboration.

Katie joined Performance Aircraft in 2014 as Director of Marketing, where she oversaw the planning, development, implementation, and tracking of all marketing activities. Prior to joining our team, Katie was the Marketing Director for a business consulting and software development firm. She also has previous experience as a sales leader in retail and financial industries. The daughter of a U.S. Air Force instructor pilot, Katie was drawn to Performance Aircraft to be part of a team that delivers remarkable customer experiences while inspiring and enabling aviation dreams.

Katie enjoys working out, reading, and attending her children’s activities and sporting events. She and her husband Brad have five children.

Donn Stoner

Director of Admissions and Professional Development

Donn’s love for aviation started at age 9 when he enjoyed his first flight with a local aircraft owner. Since that day, the desire to be involved in aviation has never left him. Spending 4 years in the Navy as an air traffic controller fueled his adventures in aviation while serving stateside, as well as abroad with aircraft carrier operations at sea. After the Navy came a career with the FAA as a controller in Waterloo, Iowa; Lincoln, Nebraska; and the Chicago O’Hare airport. Working with all kinds of aircraft from military to commercial airliners to general aviation aircraft has caused great appreciation for the industry with its many different facets.

A dream was realized at age 50 when Donn obtained a private pilot certificate as well as an instrument rating through Performance Aircraft. In 2018, Donn joined Performance Aircraft as Director of Admissions and Professional Development with a passion to impact the aviation industry by leading alongside a team dedicated to make a difference in the lives of people. Increasing the pilot ranks to address the growing deficit of pilots in the US and Internationally seems a worthy pursuit in the years to come. Serving to impact the people on our team, the communities where we live, the industry we are in, and the world we are a part of, gives a framework for living with purpose.

Prior to joining the Performance team, Donn was the people resource director for an auto group that spanned 3 markets. While there, his responsibilities included creating a people-development culture with clear mission and cultural values. This occurred through leadership development of managers as well as the identification and development of emerging leaders. In short, working in a team-based environment while encouraging and growing people to their full potential is a life motive for Donn.

Donn enjoys spending time with his wife, Mary, and their family, which includes six grand-kids. Some of his favorite activities include archery hunting, woodworking, outdoor activities, driving anything John Deere, and of course, flying as often as possible.

Eric Hartwell

Flight Training Manager

Eric’s journey with Performance Aircraft began as a customer back in 2008. He started flight training in a Cessna 172SP Skyhawk during his senior year of high school at Lincoln East and completed his private pilot certificate that July. In February 2011, Eric started an internship at Performance, which grew into a part time position.

In May of 2012, Eric became the flight training manager. In this role, Eric helps others understand the advantages of learning to fly at Performance Aircraft. Eric enjoys coordinating events for the Performance Pilot Club including seminars, local tours, and social events. He is also the testing center supervisor for the PSI testing center on site.

In his free time, Eric enjoys spending time with family and friends, trap shooting, and (of course) flying.

Evan Reiman

Aircraft Sales Consultant

$79.20/hr. club | $88/hr. walk-in | $550/day

Evan began his career with Performance Aircraft in 2016 assisting the Aircraft Sales team with aircraft market research, market analysis, and listing creation. In his current role as Aircraft Sales Consultant, Evan brings with him a strong passion for aviation and a background as an experienced pilot and active Certified Flight Instructor (Evan is also a Cirrus Training Center Instructor). Evan excels at connecting with aircraft buyers and sellers and helping them make informed, confident decisions.

Prior to working at Performance Aircraft, Evan studied air transport administration at the University of Nebraska at Omaha and graduated in May 2017. Evan also worked as a flight instructor in the Omaha, NE area helping people achieve their flying goals.

Evan enjoys flying any chance he can get. Evan’s hobbies (outside of flying) include computers, photography, and spending time with his friends and family.

John Learned

Chief Flight Instructor/Cirrus Standardized Instructor Pilot (CSIP)

$88.20/hr. club | $98/hr. walk-in | $775/day

John initially joined Performance Aircraft in 2013 as a certified flight instructor and was promoted to Chief Flight Instructor in 2016.

Always passionate about aviation, John joined the local Civil Air Patrol in Wisconsin and began his flight training in a Cessna 172 when he was fifteen. He soloed the day after his sixteenth birthday and completed his private pilot certificate the following summer.

John studied aviation flight and maintenance at Andrews University in southwestern Michigan, where he obtained his airframe and powerplant license, commercial pilot single-engine and multi-engine certificates, instrument instructor rating, and multi-engine instructor rating. Prior to joining Performance Aircraft full-time, John also worked as an A&P mechanic for Silverhawk Aviation.

John received his CSIP (Cirrus Standardized Instructor Pilot) certification in 2015 and has since helped dozens of individuals with their Cirrus-related flying needs.

In his free time, John enjoys camping, rock climbing, and biking.

Tom Arington

Assistant Chief Flight Instructor (Cirrus Training Center Instructor)

$79.20/hr. club | $88/hr. walk-in 

Being the son of a horse trainer and surgeon, Tom was the first in his family to pursue a career in aviation. Growing up in Elkhorn, NE around his father’s horse stable, he enjoyed a unique upbringing. However, his interests shifted toward aviation at an early age.

Tom began working for his private license in high school and completed his certificate just prior to enrolling in the professional flight program at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. While in college, Tom worked as a line technician at SkyWerx Aviation, the local FBO at the Blair Municipal Airport. He earned his flight instructor certificate in the fall of 2015 and went on to give over 900 hours of flight instruction over the course of the next two years. He graduated from UNO’s program, and in early 2018 he left flight instructing and returned to SkyWerx, this time as the FBO manager.

Driven by his passion for teaching, Tom is happy to return to flight instruction and accepted the assistant chief flight instructor position at Performance Aircraft. He currently holds the ratings of CFI, CFII, advanced ground instructor, instrument ground instructor, and commercial multi-engine. Additionally, Tom is an official Cirrus Training Center Instructor.

In his spare time, Tom enjoys listening to and collecting music and spending time with his 13-year-old Australian cattle dog, Natalie.

Sarah Learned

Sales & Marketing Assistant

Sarah became a part of the Performance Aircraft team in 2018, bringing with her several years of experience in client relations, project management, and marketing. She grew up in Cedar Rapids, Iowa with a father who works as an avionics engineer, but was brought into the aviation world at full speed when she married her husband, John, in 2016.

She graduated from the University of Nebraska—Lincoln with degrees in both psychology and advertising & public relations. Before her career at Performance, she worked as an account manager at a marketing and communications agency for four years, which taught her how to foster meaningful relationships and manage the ins and outs of sales and marketing projects. She loves supporting a team and finding ways to make processes as smooth and efficient as possible.

In her time outside of work, Sarah enjoys being with friends, cooking with John, being involved at church, traveling both domestically and internationally, outdoor activities, decorating projects, and reading.

Greg Love

Certified Flight Instructor

$70.20/hr. club | $78/hr. walk-in 

Aviation has been an enjoyable and challenging career for Greg since 1967. Flying allowed him to complete a bachelor’s and master’s degree. He has been fortunate to fly airliners and military aircraft, and has an ATP (Airline Transport Pilot Certificate).

Greg is a gold seal flight instructor who is certified to teach instrument (CFII) and multi-engine (MEI) ratings.  He is also an advanced ground instructor (AGI).

He enjoys working with students at Performance Aircraft on a part-time basis, and hopes to promote aviation to all interested future aviators.

Steve Dethlefs

Certified Flight Instructor

$70.20/hr. club | $78/hr. walk-in 

Steve has always been interested in flying since he was a young boy. He went to air shows with his family, watched his dad fly for the Air Force for many years, and has been involved with aviation most of his life. Steve began working toward his flying career in 2013 by attending the University of Nebraska at Omaha, where he obtained his Bachelor of Science degree in aviation with a concentration in professional flight.

Steve began his career with Performance Aircraft in 2018 as a certified flight instructor, bringing with him more than a year of experience teaching students to fly.

Prior to Steve’s flying career, he enlisted in the Nebraska Air National Guard back in 2011 as an Aerospace Ground Equipment Mechanic working on ground equipment that support the KC-135. He loves working with his hands and finding new projects to accomplish.

Steve’s passion for aviation gives him the drive and determination to teach people to fly to help further their aviation goals. Outside of flying, Steve likes to spend time with his wife and two kids, playing frisbee golf, and hanging out outdoors.

Keaton Stengel

Certified Flight Instructor

$70.20/hr. club | $78/hr. walk-in 

Originally from a small town in Texas, Keaton found that his love for operating farming equipment could be easily translated into a love for flying airplanes. Keaton moved to Nebraska in 2014 and attended the University of Nebraska at Omaha, where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in aviation with a concentration in professional flight.

Eager to share his love for aviation with others, Keaton joined Performance Aircraft in 2018 as a certified flight instructor. His prior experience at Jet Linx Aviation as a client services representative, as well as his excitement for teaching and serving others, made him a perfect fit for the team.

Outside of flying, Keaton enjoys studying new subjects, reading, running, and spending time with friends and family.

Trent Matthes

Certified Flight Instructor

$70.20/hr. club | $78/hr. walk-in 

Trent grew up on an acreage south of Lincoln near Panama. After a year of studying architecture, he decided to follow his passion of aviation and started training soon after. Trent was previously a Performance Aircraft student and received his private pilot certificate from Performance in 2016. He continued training at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, where he started an aviation degree and received his instrument, commercial, and CFI ratings. In May, he’ll be graduating with a degree in aviation and a concentration in professional flight. To round out his experience, he’s also flown over 300 hours for a few aerial photography operations.

When he’s not in the air, Trent likes to golf, hike, and spend time with family.

Matthew Gabel

Certified Flight Instructor

$70.20/hr. club | $78/hr. walk-in 

Matt comes to Performance Aircraft from Sioux Falls, South Dakota. He spent a couple of years at Dordt College until his lifelong passion for aviation started bugging him in his sleep to start flying. He has always had a passion for aviation from a very young age, since before he can remember. In January 2018 he moved to Phoenix, AZ to start his flight training. Matt now holds his commercial pilot single-engine and multi-engine certificates with an instrument rating, as well as an MEI and CFI rating with a CFII rating to come in the near future. He is quite excited to light the same fire he has for flying in others.

You can find Matt doing anything outdoors, including camping, biking, hiking, fishing, etc. in his free time. He also enjoys pulling out his guitar and being involved with church activities, namely worship team.

Ethan Wagner

Certified Flight Instructor

$70.20/hr. club | $78/hr. walk-in 

Ethan joins us from the nearby town of Wahoo, NE. Upon graduating high school, he enlisted in the Navy where he spent five years on active duty as a Hospital Corpsman. After getting out in 2015, he enrolled in the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s flight training program for a year before deciding to transfer to an identical program at the University of Central Missouri. He will graduate very soon with a degree in aviation with a concentration in professional pilot once he completes his multi-engine add-on.

In his free time, he enjoys spending time with his wife and family, as well as golfing and traveling.

Alix Christensen

Administrative Assistant

Alix joined Performance Aircraft as an administrative assistant in 2018 to help us better serve our customers. She loves human interaction and customer service, and she exhibits impressive skills when it comes to scheduling flights and ensuring our customers stay on track to achieve their goals.

Alix has a bachelor’s degree in education and human sciences from the University of Nebraska—Lincoln. Her education and previous experience at a busy medical office give her an excellent background for working with our customers and instructors to manage schedules and other details. She is excited to be a part of the Performance Aircraft team and learn all about aviation!

Alix enjoys spending time with family and friends, fishing, golfing, competing in just about any sport, and spending time outdoors with her dogs.

Zach Friesen

Aircraft Sales Assistant

Zach began his journey with Performance Aircraft as a sales assistant in 2018. With a family background in the Air Force, his genuine passion for aviation developed at a young age when he took his first step onto an airplane. The feeling of flight was an experience that he’d never forget.

Zach is currently completing a bachelor’s degree in business administration at the University of Nebraska—Lincoln. His education has provided him with valuable business and design skills, which he is excited to utilize within the aviation industry. He can’t wait to help inspire and enable aviation dreams while at the same time, accomplishing his own.

In his free time, Zach enjoys being active, reading, and spending quality time with his friends and family.

Kyle Soto

Flight Training Support Assistant

Kyle’s passion for aviation was born at the ripe young age of four when he took his first commercial flight to Baltimore. From the start of the engine, he was hooked. He simply loves the feeling of being in the air and will soon start training for this private pilot’s license with Performance Aircraft.

Kyle is working hard toward his life-long dream of becoming an airline pilot, even as a sophomore in high school. He plans to pursue a college degree in aeronautical engineering or aerospace engineering and eventually pilot long-haul, international flights on the Boeing 777.

Being born and raised in Lincoln, he’s a die-hard Husker fan and loves going to football and baseball games. He’s played baseball since he could walk and is currently a catcher, first baseman, and third baseman for the Lincoln North Star High School team. He also spends his time on student council, where he helps set up big school events and helps produce the daily video announcements.

Family is a big part of Kyle’s life, and he enjoys helping move equipment and checking off daily tasks at his grandpa’s farm whenever possible. Hunting, fishing, hanging out with friends, and traveling are also ways he spends much of his free time.

Sarah Heckathorn

Controller

Sarah has been responsible for the company’s accounting since Performance Aircraft was founded in 2004.

In addition to working at Performance Aircraft, Sarah has also been a registered nurse since 2001, serving as labor and delivery nurse for over 10 years.

Whether she is taking care of a patient, communicating with a customer, or assisting with financial decisions for Performance Aircraft, Sarah brings a deep commitment to ensuring every individual receives an outstanding level of care.

Since marrying Bill in 1998, Sarah has grown to avidly enjoy flying and aviation. Recently, Sarah and Bill took their three daughters (Molly, Jenna, and Jacie) in one of their aircraft for a fun family getaway to Branson, Missouri.

Outside of work, Sarah enjoys reading, volunteering at school, and spending time with family.

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