Steve Lieber came from Missouri and graduated with the class of 1966 from the southern campus. After graduating from Farragut, Lieber attended college and spent time serving in the Army. At 22 he returned to his father’s full-service gas station. After his father’s sudden passing, Lieber began his legacy from gas stations to helicopters. Lieber created the largest lessor of helicopters to the domestic electronic news gathering (ENG) industry in the United State Helicopters Inc which also provides to other customer segments such as utilities and to the U.S. Army.
Corky Newcombe ‘66S, his Farragut classmate states; “for any of you who might think Steve was fed from a sliver spoon, think again. He paid his dues just like many of us.”
After serving in the Army, Leiber returned to his hometown to assist his father with his full-service gas station and unfortunately had to work with the sudden death of his Father. Lieber took over the business and decided to buy another gas station, and another, and ended up with five stations. In the late 70’s several stations were converting to self-serve and Lieber was ahead of the trend. His savvy business sense along with his Farragut and Army training told him full-serve gas stations were not the vision of the future. Noting the change, he demolished his stations and became a pioneer in the self-service industry. His actions proved to be very successful. So successful, that within 10 years, Texaco took notice and bought out his entire operation.
Perhaps by flying in helicopters to search for gas station locations, Lieber’s helicopter interest peaked. After the sale to Texaco, Lieber bought his first helicopter. It was the beginning of what is now the largest ENG service in the country. It began in 1981 when he founded Helicopters Inc. based out of St. Louis, MO.
When Lieber started Helicopters Inc., he, along with engineers, took a Bell helicopter and retrofitted it to be equipped to handle broadcasting for news sources. He started with one chopper and within weeks he had news sources from all surrounding areas asking for service. From traffic to breaking news Lieber’s outfit could handle all your media needs. His company provided all aspects to make reporting safe, reliable, and successful. Helicopter Inc. coordinated all aspects from flying condition weather reports to news station call letters painted on the choppers- Helicopters Inc. did and still does it all.
Steve started with a small staff, including his younger brother Jeff Lieber. They only used Bell helicopters making service & style consistent. This simple, reliable approach proved to be successful- today they offer over 60 ENG helicopters engineered to serve the media industry, 150 ENG pilots, as well as 75 photojournalists, and ariel photographers, and serve every major market in the US.
Helicopters Inc. also provides Powerline and Pipeline control services for various utility entities across the country and contracts with support solutions for the US Government. The company also offers leasing of the choppers, as well as helicopter maintenance, and catered charters.
With over 1,000,000 flight hours as a company, Lieber & Helicopter Inc. lives up to its tagline; Above it All. The mission statement echoes the foundation of Admiral Farragut Academy. Lieber explained, “Above it All means putting you, the customer, above everything else. It means embracing the perspective that only comes from seeing the world from the sky. And it means that we, as a company, will always provide the most memorable experience possible, in the best aircraft, with an unwavering commitment to safety every time we lift off. Living this Above it All mentality is our mission, and we’re glad you’re a part of it.”
In 2017 Lieber transitioned the company to employee ownership. He was quoted as saying “Many of the employees and members of our management team have over 25 years of tenure with the company. It was important to me to create a succession plan that would allow me to step away from the day-to-day operations while rewarding the folks who helped me build the business.”
Lieber’s company has supported government agencies, and local communities reporting on traffic to national disasters to coverage of the Olympics and other significant events such as 9/11.
Lieber is an example of a leader who serves others for a cause greater than oneself, a true Farragut leader. A kind, hard-working man, Lieber credits Farragut for his success and gives of his time and treasure back to his alma mater. He is responsible for refurbing the Garden Theater, and aviation department and supporting immediate needs to enhance the Farragut mission and experience.