Cape Fear man wins first ever Aviation Professional of the Year Award

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Howie Franklin, Cape Fear Regional Jetport Manager, is the first ever recipient of the Willard G. Plentl Aviation Professional of the Year Award (photo: Sydney Bouchelle/WWAY News)

BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — A Brunswick County man has been recognized for his dedication to aviation.

Howie Franklin, Cape Fear Regional Jetport Manager, is the first ever recipient of the Willard G. Plentl Aviation Professional of the Year Award.

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“I’m so honored. I mean, to be the first recipient is to me in a little GA airport,” Franklin said. “I mean, I’m honored, my commissioners are honored and we appreciate it very much.”

The award honors an aviation professional who emulates the dedication and leadership of Willard Plentl, who worked in the industry for more than 50 years. Wilmington International Airport Director and N.C. Airports Association Board Member Julie Wilsey says Franklin was a clear winner.

“He has 54 years in the industry. He is certainly an advocate, both in the local community and in the state,” Wilsey said.

Franklin served in the Air Force; worked as a flight steward on Air Force One, serving five presidents; and led the construction of the $3,000,000 terminal at Cape Fear Regional Jetport. All of that just scratches the surface of his career.

“Anyone who knows Howie knows that he speaks aviation in any room, in any venue. So he is a great ambassador,” Wilsey said.

Franklin says it’s an unbelievable honor to receive the award in Willard Plentl’s namesake and a pleasure to be in public service to the Cape Fear community, or what he likes to call the “Magic Kingdom.”

“I’ve been all over the world and all over the United States, this is not bad believe me. And if you can find something better than this let me know,” Franklin said.

If you know someone you’d like to nominate for the Willard G. Plentl Award, N.C. Airports Association members can find that information here. Nominations for 2021 are open for the remainder of the calendar year.

From all of us at WWAY, Congratulations Howie!