Get our newsletters

After 26 years, Leading Edge Aviation has a new operator as Doylestown Airport changes

Posted

Leading Edge Aviation, the longtime operator of Doylestown Airport, has been bought by two area men passionate about flying.

Joe Perry and Marcel Bisschops purchased the business from Rick Witt, who has owned it since 1993 and grew it from a one-plane operation to one with three planes, 162 hangars, nine flight school planes and a Beechwood King Air charter. As the fixed-base operator, Leading Edge is responsible for the flight school, charter business, aircraft maintenance, fuel sales and managing the airport.

Witt, 66, will remain involved with the business for a few years, he said, as he makes the transition into retirement. “I’m very excited for these guys. It’s great to have some enthusiasm and interest in growing the business.”

The men, who are equal partners in the venture, said, while they intend to make improvements to the Old Easton Road airport, they also want to retain its close community atmosphere.

“We want to modernize some of the facilities here … some of the buildings are dated,” said Bisschops. However, “it’s very important to us that that (community) feeling doesn’t go away. Rick will help us better understand how the airport impacts Doylestown and the community here,” added Perry.

Already a popular spot for family picnics and plane-watching, Bisschops said, those amenities may be expanded, perhaps with the addition of a playground. Some 500 children attended the recent helicopter-arrival of Santa, said Witt.

“We’ll be very focused on customer service, line service, fueling planes,” Bisschops noted. “We want to ensure all expectations are met,” said Perry.

The new owners said their first priority will be hiring an airframe and power plant technician.

Bisschops, who, with his wife, Liesbeth Lemmons Bisschops, bought their first plane in 1994, has long been fascinated with flight. “I always knew Marcel would do something like this,” said Lemmons Bisschops. “For him, it’s a passion.”

Bisschops who spent his professional career in information technology, said, he loves flying, spending nearly a dozen years as a flight instructor, including teaching his daughter to fly.

“It’s very special for me,” he said, of being a co-owner of Leading Edge Aviation. Adding to the excitement of the new business was the date of the deal. They closed on Dec. 4. Bisschops retired the same day and turned 60 the next, he explained, with a smile.

Perry, 48, came to flying a little later, but wishes he had sooner. A businessman who owns two financial services businesses, he said he first thought flying was “beyond his financial reach, but that wasn’t the case.”

Not only does he love being a pilot, it’s also improved his quality of life. “Aviation in general enhances life, but it’s also allowed me to replace a three-hour drive with a 40-minute flight. I can be home for a lot more of my kids’ activities,” he said.

Perry also taught his daughter to fly, giving her her first flying lesson at 12. “What did I know about raising a strong woman,” he said, with a grin, “but I knew how to teach her to fly.”

John Mininger is chairman of the he Bucks County Airport Authority, which owns Doylestown and Quakertown airports and licenses VanSant Airport in Erwinna. The VanSant facility is more of a recreational airport, said the chairman. That property is owned by the Bucks County Parks and Recreation System.

He said, he’s “very pleased” with the Leading Edge Aviation sale. “I think Rick has done a great job and this is a great opportunity to keep the continuity there. It’s the best thing that could have happened.”


X