The History of JKA
Jack Edwards National Airport (JKA), originally named Canal Field, became operational in 1942 and was first used as an outlying field (OLF) for the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida. The primary purpose of the airfield at that time was training of Naval Aviators. Due to transitions in training exercises, the airfield began to see a decrease in military operations and the facility was transferred to the State of Alabama in 1977. After the purchase, the name of the Airport was changed to Jack Edwards Airport in honor of Congressman Jack Edwards, who was instrumental in transferring the property from the federal government to the State of Alabama.
In 1983, the Airport was purchased by the City of Gulf Shores and has since become a valuable asset in the growth and economic development and surrounding communities. In 1988, the City of Gulf Shores established the City of Gulf Shores Airport Authority to operate and manage the airport. A new general aviation terminal building was constructed in 1998 to accommodate passengers and serve as the Airport’s welcome center for travelers. In 2003, Runway 9/27 was extended to 6,962 feet and an Instrument Landing System (I.L.S.) with an ApproachLighting System (MALSR) was constructed. These improvements led to the use of the airport in all weather conditions and allowed it to accommodate up to 99% of the nation’s aircraft fleet, becoming a National airport designation.
As Jack Edwards National Airport continues to grow, continual planning and development will give it the ability to be a competitive transportation hub for the Cities of Gulf Shores, Orange Beach and South Baldwin County as a key element to attract more visitors and industry to the Alabama Gulf Coast.
The majority of travelers visiting the Airport consist of those traveling for business, second homes, or recreational purposes. The continuing growth of development in the region, complemented by the natural attractions available in coastal areas, makes it attractive for real estate, retail and resort development. The area is also attractive to seekers of recreational activities such as sport fishing, golfing, shopping, or simply relaxing.
Characteristics of JKA
Jack Edwards National Airport is located approximately 2 miles north of the central business district of Gulf Shores, Alabama. The airport is situated on 838 acres of land bordered to the north by Cotton Creek Drive, to the west by Alabama Highway 59, and to the south by Waterway East. Alabama Department of Transportation is in the development phase of a new expressway spur off the beach express to serve and border the east boundary of the airport. This includes a new intercostal bridge, which will serve the new airline terminal.
The Airport is currently served by two paved runways designated 9/27 and 17/35. Runway 9/27, the primary runway, is 6,962’ x 100’ with a 462 displaced threshold to Runway 9. Runway 17/35, the crosswind or secondary runway, is 3,596’ x 75’ with a 320 displaced threshold to Runway 35.
Jack Edwards National Airport with over 90,000 annual operations is ranked the second busiest airport in the State of Alabama.
JKA maintains daily a total of 2,729,956’ of asphalt which is equal to 43.1 miles of 12’ roadway, over 36,109 feet of fencing equal to 6.84 miles, and over 537 lights on the airport with over 52 airfield signs.
Jack Edwards National Airport board members set the policies and procedures by which the airport is operated. Those selected for the board are some of the area’s most prominent business and civic leaders. They bring the knowledge, experience, and expertise needed to ensure that JKA remains a first-class facility.
Business Owner & Commercial Pilot
Olmstead and Olmstead, LLC
President/CEO Alabama Gulf Coast
Convention & Visitors Bureau
President and Founder of Caduceus Consulting
Gulf Shores City Council Member
Principal, Cardinal Ventures, Inc.
Orange Beach City Council Member
Gulf Shores City Council Member
Airport Authority Staff
Assistant Airport Manager