meet  our team

At Performance Aircraft, we come to work everyday ready to change the lives of our customers. We believe that there is no better way to do so then to build strong relationships and lead each other well.

We follow four simple core values:

Do everything with integrity // Innovate & improve // Provide knowledge that’s valuable // Apply truth & grace

our mission IS ALL ABOUT YOURS

 

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.

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.

Travis Ammon

Chief Flight Instructor

Travis grew up on a ranch in north central Nebraska and attended high school in Bassett, Nebraska. After graduation, he enlisted in the US Navy and served 4 years on board the USS Essex in Sasebo, Japan as an Aviation Boatswain’s Mate.

After his discharge, he received his associates degree through Northeast community college in Norfolk, Nebraska and transferred to the University of Nebraska at Omaha to start his flying career. After 3 semesters, he finished his ratings with ATP and completed the Bachelors of Science degree online through Utah Valley University.

His flying career started in Nebraska and has taken him to Philadelphia, Chicago and now resides back in Blair with his wife, children, and two yellow labs.

When not flying Travis enjoys spending time with his family, cooking, hiking, hunting, workingout, and anything outdoors.

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.

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.

Ryan Lutzkanin

Certified Flight Instructor/Cirrus Training Center Instructor (TCI)

$70.20/hr. club | $78/hr. walk-in
Cirrus Instruction: $85.50/hr. club | $95/hr. walk-in

Ryan grew up in a military family and moved around every few years. He’s lived in most parts of the United States and spent six years in a small town in Germany. His family settled down in Kansas City, where he attended The University of Kansas and studied philosophy and economics. While at KU, he obtained his private pilot license at Amelia Earhart Airport near KC. He fell in love with aviation and decided he had to make it his career and share it with anyone willing to get into a plane with him. The remainder of his certificates (MEI, CFI, and CFII) were finished in Denver. He’s excited to help his students realize their aviation goals!

When he’s not flying, he can be found outside biking, hiking, and spending time with family.

tHIS COULD BE YOU

apply todaY to join our team!

Interested in a career at Performance Aircraft? We would still love to get to know you and learn about your experience and skills.

We’re growing quickly, and we could have a position for you. Tell us about your dream job and let us know what makes you good at it!

Jesse Foster

Certified Flight Instructor

$70.20/hr. club | $78/hr. walk-in 

Jesse grew up in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where he worked for a hot air balloon company as a crew chief. This work fed into his love for aviation and after high school, he decided to pursue his aviation career.

Jesse attended the University of North Dakota in 2016, where he began his Commercial Aviation major. After graduating in 2019 with his bachelors degree, he made the move to Lincoln, Nebraska to be part of the Performance Aircraft team. He looks forward to sharing his passion for aviation with those ready to fly.

In his free time, Jesse can be seen doing activities with his young Siberian husky or watching football.

Cody Smith

Certified Flight Instructor

$70.20/hr. club | $78/hr. walk-in 

Cody’s professional adventures started him off in mechanics. He started working on engines at the age of 6 and developed a very keen mind for a mechanical aptitude. Enlisting in the U.S. Navy in 2008, Cody put his mechanical ability to the test as he became a Naval P-3C Flight Engineer. Over the next 6 years he logged over 1,800 flight hours not only in the U.S. but also over deployments and operations in Asia and the Middle East. Cody was also involved in ground and flight testing for the diagnostics and acceptance of fleet aircraft.

Following his time in the Navy, Cody pursued his dream of becoming a commercial pilot and attended the University of North Dakota, where he graduated in aeronautics. Cody plans to continue his education in Space Studies, Aero/Astro Dynamics, and Engineering in the future as he has a great love for working with complex aircraft.

Cody has a great passion for people and on his off time enjoys working with Search & Rescue teams as a K-9 handler with his bloodhound named Wilson. He also enjoys photography, fishing, BBQ, and most things outdoors to include playing his favorite old country tunes on his guitars around the camp fire.

Alexander Dolan

Certified Flight Instructor

$70.20/hr. club | $78/hr. walk-in

Alex has had a love for everything aviation for as long as he can remember. In 2005, Alex enlisted in the Army as a UH-60 helicopter mechanic which led to him becoming a Crew Chief in a medivac unit. He served a total of 10 years in the Army, accruing nearly 900 hours of flight time and experiencing many overseas deployments.

Upon leaving the Army, Alex attended the Green River College Aviation Program where he obtained his Certificates & Ratings. Out of all of his ratings, he is most proud of obtaining his Commercial Seaplane Certificate. Alex recently graduated from the University of Nebraska – Omaha with a Bachelor’s of multidisciplinary studies with a concentration in Aviation and business.

 
When not working, Alex enjoys cooking for friends and family, racing/building cars, and learning new skills that he can put to good use.

Alix Christensen

Administrative Coordinator

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

Marketing manager

Zach began his journey with Performance Aircraft as a sales assistant in 2018. From there, he was promoted to Marketing & Administrative Coordinator and is now the Marketing Manager. 

Zach received a bachelor’s degree in business administration with an emphasis in marketing from 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 is excited about helping inspire and enable aviation dreams while at the same time, accomplishing his own.

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

Kyle Soto

Flight Training Support Assistant

At the young age of four years old, Kyle’s passion for aviation was ignited. On his first commercial flight to Baltimore, the start of the engines had him hooked. He loves the feeling of being in the air and is fascinated by the concept of flight. Kyle recently began training for his private pilot certificate right here at Performance Aircraft.

Kyle has been working hard towards achieving his goal of becoming a pilot. Wanting to better his education at Purdue University, he plans on pursuing a degree in both Professional Flight and Airport Operations. Kyle dreams of becoming a medevac pilot flying the PC-12NG. He wants to make a real difference in the lives of everyone he meets and believes that this is the best way to make that dream a reality.

Kyle is a junior at Lincoln North Star High School, where he plays baseball and is on the student council’s executive team. Also at North Star, he has done many things to promote aviation, having helped pave the way for an aviation program involving three new classes.

Outside of his busy schedule, Kyle loves spending time with family, hanging out with friends, going to Nebraska football games, and traveling.

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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