Black History Month Leaders in Aviation: Isaac Lee Sr.
Meet the officer and gentleman running one of the world’s largest private jet facilities
Isaac Lee Sr, Area Director of Signature Flight Support’s (SFS) fixed-base operator (FBO) facilities in Miami-Dade and Monroe counties and General Manager at SFS Miami, got his start in aviation when he joined the military in 1988 and served as an active U.S. Naval aviator for six years. After transitioning to the Naval Reserves, he wanted to continue working in the industry. Little did he know then that he would go from saluting senior military officers to welcoming VIP travelers at one of the world’s largest private jet facilities.
His first job in the civilian world was as a ramp supervisor with Piedmont Aviation Services. After only a year in his new role in Norfolk, Virginia, Isaac was promoted to Airline Area General Manager, based on his knowledge of airline ground handling and fueling, and his management talents. For two years, Isaac managed the operations at Norfolk before continuing his career growth as an Airline Services Manager. Within two years, Isaac would be promoted to Area General Manager for the entire Piedmont Aviation Services Norfolk FBO.
Isaac knew from the start that he wanted to explore his career advancement opportunities, but he didn’t always go out of his way to make his career aspirations known. Isaac recalls, “I was so into what I was doing, I just tried to do the very best job I could every day.”
During the next four years, he focused on building a solid foundation of general aviation knowledge and skills. He credits company leaders, customers, and associates for sharing and helping him reach higher levels. As his responsibilities expanded to general aviation operations, Isaac learned from the ground up about line services, towing, fueling, customer service, accounting, scheduling, maintenance, and human resources. His hard work and experience paid off when a General Manager position became available in Charlottesville, Virginia in 1999.
After three years in Charlottesville, Isaac returned to Norfolk as its General Manager. After eight successful years in Norfolk, the company (which later became Signature Flight Support) promoted Isaac to run its largest FBO, located at Miami International Airport. In 2016, SFS also acquired Landmark Aviation, making it the world’s largest FBO network. In his role as Area General Manager, Isaac became responsible for SFS operations at MIA, Key West International Airport, Miami-Opa Locka Executive Airport, and Miami Executive Airport. After being recognized as SFS’s General Manager of the Year in 2013 and 2014, Isaac was promoted to Area Director in 2018.
With 377,070 square feet of ramp space, SFS’ MIA facility welcomes hundreds of thousands of private jet travelers for major global events like Art Basel Miami Beach, the Miami Open, and Super Bowl LIV. More than 1,000 private jets arrived at SFS’ Miami FBOs on the weekend of Super Bowl LIV alone.
After over 20 years in the industry, Isaac still uses the same mantra about leadership: “One Band, One Sound. If one person in the band sounds bad, the whole band sounds bad. This concept gets everyone working together.”
His words of wisdom to leaders of a band: “Advocate for your employees. If we take care of our employees, they will take care of our customers, and everyone wins when that happens.”