About High Tide Aviation
High Tide Aviation is based out of Southport, North Carolina at the Cape Fear Regional Jetport. Our fleet includes a Robinson R44 Helicopter, a Cessna 172 airplane and a King Air C90B. We offer private air charters, scenic air tours around the cape fear region and flight training.
Jessica Ward, CFII – Owner & Chief Pilot
Jessica Ward, chief pilot and CEO, is a North Carolina native with nine years of experience in the aviation industry. She holds a commercial pilot certificate in multi-engine airplanes, single-engine airplanes and helicopters, with instrument and flight instructor ratings in both airplanes and helicopters. Jessica has a true passion for aviation and flies nearly every day. She loves sharing her passion and the joy of flight with others.
Willis Tew – Helicopter Operations, CFI, Tour Pilot
Willis, born and raised in NC, began flying in 2010. In 2015, while working and attending Utah Valley University's Global Aviation Program, he obtained a Bachelors of Science in Aviation Administration and his Commercial Helicopter pilot’s license from Total Flight Solutions. Willis became a helicopter Certified Flight Instructor in January 2020 and is our latest addition to the team. An avid musician and performer throughout his life, he’s an entertainer with a high regard for professionalism. In his spare time, you'll likely find him turning a wrench on his old Volkswagen or touring the outdoors with his 2 labs.
Juan Mueses – Airplane Operations, CFI, Tour Pilot
Juan Mueses is passionate about aviation and has been studying and/or working aviation for the past 13 years. He was born and raised in the countryside of the Dominican Republic. After High school he received a scholarship to study Aeronautic Engineering in Venezuela. After graduation he then moved back to the Dominican Republic to work for the Dominican Institution of Civil Aviation. In 2016 he moved to North Carolina and began working for Air Wilmington as a line service technician. In his spare time he began piloting courses. He received his first pilots license in 2018 and since has gained his instrument rating license, commercial pilots license and his CFI license. He began a partirme job as a flight instructor at High Tide Aviation in July of 2019.
Dan Wilcox – Helicopter CFI, Airplane CFI, Tour Pilot
Dan has lived in Carolina Beach, NC for 30 years, having moved from Virginia Beach, where he grew up. Dan’s background is in audio engineering and construction management & consulting. While Dan’s interest in flying came late in his career, he has made substantial progress since he was introduced to general aviation. Dan received his helicopter training from High Tide Helicopters and has been flying with us for four years. Dan holds a commercial pilot rating in both helicopters and airplanes and is a helicopter Certified Flight Instructor. Dan also holds his airplane instrument rating, and is currently working to adding his flight instructor rating to the airplane. When not flying Dan spends time on his sailboat and continues to be a longtime community volunteer.
Terry Druffel, Airplane CFI & CFII
Terry Druffel is a native of Chicago, Illinois and a twenty-five-year Navy veteran. As a Navy helicopter pilot, he accumulated over 2000 hours of rotary-wing time flying the Bell Jet Ranger, single and twin engine “Hueys” and the Kaman SH-2F Anti-Submarine helicopter. His military fixed-wing time includes the T28 trainer and the C-131 transport aircraft. As a civilian pilot he has accumulated over 400 hours in High Performance, Complex, single engine and multi-engine airplanes, helicopters. His FAA ratings include Commercial Pilot; single engine, multi-engine and helicopter: Instrument airplane and helicopter; flight instructor.
Keith Blackmon, Airplane CFI, CFII, ATP
Keith Blackmon has over 19,000 flight hours and holds an ATP rating along with a CFII certificate. He earned his Private Pilots license here at the Cape Fear Regional airport in 1986. Since then he has flown with Piedmont Airlines, Midway Airlines and the last 19 years flying for the worlds largest Fractional Jet company. He resides in Wilmington NC and is proud to be on the High Tide Aviation Team
Gene Stark, Faciltiy Manager
Gene, from Denver, Colorado has always been interested in flying! With a BS in Business Administration, he plays a vital role in keeping our facilities clean, maintained, and operating at peak performance. Gene served in the Korean War for the U.S. Navy on DD 702 (USS Hank) Destroyer, (and 3 others ) tasked with escorting the USS Midway (CV 41) Aircraft carrier. Now, Gene loves to play his part in keeping this Heliport active and attractive!
Our home airport, Cape Fear Regional Jetport, also known as Howie Franklin Field, is a public use
airport in Oak Island, North Carolina, United States. Located just 30 minutes from downtown Wilmington.
Photos courtesy of Cape Fear Living magazine