About High Tide Aviation, Southport, NC

HomeAbout High Tide Aviation, Southport, NC

Our passion for flying is evident in the quality of flight training and other services we offer.

At High Tide Aviation, in Southport, North Carolina, we very much love being up in the air! That has led our team to becoming the premier flight training school in this area, along with providing a variety of other aerial services, including scenic air tours and aerial photography/videography. We are located at the Cape Fear Regional Jetport, also known as Howie Franklin Field.


Jessica Ward, CFII – Owner and Chief Pilot

Jessica is a North Carolina native with ten years of aviation industry experience. She holds a commercial pilot certificate in multi-engine airplanes, single-engine airplanes (land and sea), and helicopters, with instrument and flight instructor ratings in land airplanes, seaplanes, 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 North Carolina, began flying in 2010. In 2015, while working and attending Utah Valley University’s Global Aviation Program, he obtained a Bachelor’s 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.

Dan Wilcox
Dan Wilcox – Helicopter CFI, Airplane CFII, Instructor and Tour Pilot

Dan has lived in Carolina Beach, NC for 32 years, having moved from Virginia Beach, where he grew up. Dan is a helicopter Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) and airplane Certified Flight/Instrument Instructor (CFII). Dan also holds ratings for multi engine airplane and seaplane. When not flying, Dan enjoys time on the water in his sailboat.

Gene Stark – Facility 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!

Brandon McCain
Brandon McCain – Airplane CFI & Tour Pilot

Brandon brings both aviation and business experience to the High Tide Aviation team. In 2014, he graduated from NC State with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business and that same year performed his first solo flight in Bluefield, West Virginia. After moving back to North Carolina, he obtained his Commercial Pilot License in 2019 and in 2020 his Certified Flight Instructor Rating, as well as his Multi-Engine Rating. In his spare time, you may catch Brandon out playing tennis, basketball or even volleyball on the beach.


We take great pleasure in seeing our students pass their FAA evaluation flights earning Private Pilot, Commercial Pilot, Certified Flight Instructor (CFI), Instrument Ratings, and Instrument Instructor Certificates in both fixed-wing planes and helicopters.

We also very much enjoy providing scenic air tours to those in the area wanting something special to do or visitors wanting to kick their vacation up a notch. Aerial surveillance for area businesses, contractors, and utility companies can also be arranged. Basically, anything you need a bird’s eye view for is within our capability, so reach out and find out how we can help you!