Cress Horne is the founder of U.S. Helicopters, a company which has offices in 14 states, operates the largest aerial film company on the East Coast, and offers chartering, maintenance, and sales. In 1979, with a $36,000 note signed by his father, the then 19-year-old bought a helicopter and started U.S. Helicopters Inc. in Marshville, North Carolina. He spent the early years crop-dusting and selling rides at local events. But a chance meeting with motion picture director Hal Needham and actor Burt Reynolds at a NASCAR event changed all that. After Horne agreed to fly the two from the speedway to the hotel where they were staying 12 miles away in Charlotte, Needham hired Horne to shoot aerial footage for his movie Stroker Ace. Similar stints followed on nearly 100 feature films, including The Last of the Mohicans and The Fugitive. Horne, a member of the Tower Club at Charlotte Plaza in North Carolina, used his motion picture flying techniques in 1989 when a local news program needed aerial photography of Hurricane Hugo’s horrific damage to South Carolina. Realizing he could train others for news flying, Horne established a turnkey program that included pilots, helicopters, and cameras.