White-sand beaches, crystal-clear ocean waves, and breezes off the Gulf of Mexico—that’s Gulf Shores, Alabama, host of the final 2018 AOPA Fly-In. An AOPA Fly-In is an exciting event with amazing aircraft, stimulating seminars, and interesting speakers—and with a fantastic setting like Gulf Shores, this fly-in is worth the trip. We’ve saved the best for last. Join AOPA October 26 and 27 in a beautiful beach town sure to delight your senses—and challenge you to expand your aviation horizons.

Bordered on one side by Pensacola, Florida, famous for its renown naval air station, the towns of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach are popular summer vacation spots that continue to beckon beachgoers even in the fall. That’s because the average temperature is still around 75 degrees Fahrenheit and the water temperature is the same!

Jack Edwards National Airport (JKA) is located just two miles from the center of Gulf Shores. Originally a reliever field for Naval Air Station Pensacola, it was called Canal Field. The city bought it in 1977 and renamed it for U.S. Rep. Jack Edwards, who was instrumental in the city’s purchase. A new terminal was added in 1998 and the main runway, 9/27, was expanded to its current 6,962-foot length. Runway 17/35 is 3,596 feet long. It is the second busiest airport in Alabama, averaging approximately 228 operations each day.

Three full-service FBOs serve JKA: Gulf Air Center, Salt Air Aviation, and Platinum Air Center. Each is unique. Gulf Air is managed by Shawnda Henderson, at 28 one of the youngest general managers in aviation. Salt Air is the newest and its high-style facility is beautiful. Platinum Air Center is a member of the Paragon Aviation Group. All three FBOs will help with the AOPA Fly-In.

Two days of aviation events such as seminars, exhibits, and meetings are complemented by great food, good people, and camaraderie at an AOPA Fly-In. If you haven’t been to one before, this AOPA Fly-In will be a winner—blue skies, warm temps, and low humidity. The AOPA Fly-In begins Friday with all-day seminars (registration and fee required) on topics ranging from weather to mountain flying. Each all-day seminar features an expert in the field sharing his or her knowledge, along with a hands-on opportunity to increase the learning experience. Friday afternoon, the exhibitors open and invite everyone for a happy hour, and Friday night is the much-anticipated Barnstormers Party. Saturday dawns with a pancake breakfast, aircraft displays, various free seminars, and much more. The day concludes with AOPA President Mark Baker’s Town Hall meeting and ice cream social.


June 15 and 16 Missoula, Montana (MSO)
September 14 and 15 Santa Fe, New Mexico (SAF)
October 5 and 6 Carbondale, Illinois (MDH)
October 26 and 27 Gulf Shores, Alabama (JKA)

By Julie Summers Walker