Author: Marisa Montgomery

With new flight services, Gulf Shores looks to skies to bring tourists to Alabama beaches

Jack Edwards National Airport in Gulf Shores, Ala., on Thursday, Jan. 23, 2019. Plans are underway to construct an $8 million to $10 million terminal to welcome commercial air service within the next two years. (John Sharp/jsharp@al.com).

People in and around the Gulf Shores area will soon be able to take flights to select airports in the Southeast thanks to carrier Ultimate Air Shuttle.

Jay Taffet, founder of Southeast Beach Express, told The Advocate that the airline was founded to provide quicker access to Alabama’s beaches. In 2018, nearly 6.6 million people visited the beaches and almost all of them drove there.

Only 7% came by air, according to Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism.

Beginning in June, the company will offer flights from Gulf Shores’ Jack Edwards Airport four days a week, with prices beginning at $245, according to their Facebook page.
From Gulf Shores, you’ll be able to travel to Atlanta after landing at Cobb County’s McCollum Airport, Nashville after landing at John C. Tune Airport and Baton Rouge after landing at Baton Rouge Metro Airport.
According to the company’s Facebook, here is the complete “South Beach Express” flight schedule which will operate every Thursday through Sunday:
  • Gulf Shores to Atlanta
    • Depart: 9:30 a.m. (CST)
    • Arrive: 11:35 a.m. (EST)
  • Atlanta to Gulf Shores
    • Depart: 12:20 p.m. (EST)
    • Arrive: 12:25 p.m. (CST)
  • Gulf Shores to Nashville
    • Depart: 1:10 p.m.
    • Arrive: 2:35 p.m.
  • Nashville to Gulf Shores
    • Depart: 3:20 p.m.
    • Arrive: 4:45 p.m.
  • Gulf Shores to Baton Rouge
    • Depart: 5:30 p.m.
    • Arrive: 6:20 p.m.
  • Baton Rouge to Gulf Shores
    • Depart: 7:05 p.m.
    • Arrive: 7:55 p.m.

This new service is just one of many that could be taking place at Gulf Shores’ airport in the future. The airport was one of three in Alabama to apply for a federal grant from the Department of Transportation in order to expand their commercial flight services.

Taffet told The Advocate that while the flights are set to end in late September, service could be extended beyond that time if there’s demand for it.

Public Notice Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact

CONSTRUCT AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL TOWER at Jack Edwards National Airport Gulf Shores, Alabama

Interested parties are hereby notified that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has prepared an Environmental Assessment (EA) and Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for the construction of a new Air Traffic Control Tower at the Jack Edwards National Airport, located in Gulf Shores, Alabama.

The EA has been prepared in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act.  The purpose of the EA and FONSI is to assess the effects on the human and natural environment associated with the Proposed Action.

The FONSI is the FAA’s finding that the Proposed Action will not have a significant effect on the human and natural environment associated with the land acquisition and proposed improvements.

The FONSI and Final EA are available for a 30-day informational public review at the following locations:

Jack Edwards National Airport
Terminal Building
3190 Airport Drive
Gulf Shores, AL 36542

Federal Aviation Administration
Airports District Office
100 West Cross Street, Suite B
Jackson, MS 39208

Gulf Shores Airport Authority Breaks Ground for New Air Traffic Control Tower Facility at Jack Edwards National Airport (JKA)

Today, the Airport Authority of Gulf Shores held a groundbreaking ceremony for the new air traffic control tower facility at Jack Edwards National Airport (JKA). The new tower was made possible through $6.13 million in grant funding from both the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the “CARES ACT” secured by the joint efforts of Senator Richard Shelby and Congressman Bradley Byrne. JKA currently ranks as the second busiest airport in operations (landings and takeoffs) in Alabama and will rank in the top 40 of 256 Federal Contract Towers nationwide once the tower is in operation.

As a result of the “CARES ACT,” the participation in grant funding for the tower increased to 100 percent from the original 90 percent of grant funding and 10 percent of local funding from the Airport Authority. Chairman Vic Roberts of the Airport Authority stated, “The $700,000 in local Airport Authority funding set aside for the tower construction will now be reallocated to a future terminal project at JKA.”

Senator Shelby announced the grant as one of four for Alabama Airports earlier this week stating, “This funding is significant for the state and will increase economic development opportunities in these communities as well as improve safety at these airports.”

Congressman Byrne said, “Jack Edwards National Airport serves one of the fastest-growing regions of our state. The funds that the FAA has approved for this much-needed tower will enable the airport to take another step forward in servicing its customers and the Southwest Alabama economy. In years to come, the airport will play an increasingly vital role in the continued development of Baldwin County. I appreciate the FAA approving these funds, and I look forward to continuing to support the airport’s growth.”

 

“Jack Edwards National Airport serves the thriving business and tourism market in Gulf Shores, South Baldwin County and the communities along the Alabama Gulf Coast,” said Mayor Robert Craft. “This full-service airport is an outstanding asset creating jobs and diversification opportunities for new and existing businesses. JKA is vital to the development and continued economic growth of the area and provides a transportation hub for anyone traveling for business, recreation or relaxation.”

The project is slated to be completed by July 30, 2021, with FAA commissioning proposed for September 30, 2021.

The event included tours of an Elite Airways CRJ 700 and an announcement made by John Pearsall, CEO of Elite Airways, of the intent to begin providing the residents of Gulf Shores with scheduled service in early 2021 pending FAA and TSA approval.

Jack Edwards National Airport Open for Business

Gulf Shores / Orange Beach, Ala. – While operations have trended down this past week, the airport is open and fully operational.  FBO’s at Jack Edwards National are operating at normal hours with full staffing and providing full service as usual.  The airport continues to monitor coronavirus (COVID -019) and is in constant contact with federal, state and local officials to coordinate any necessary response.

Scott Fuller, Airport Manager, stated “all projects including the new Air Traffic Control facility are preceding along schedule and we do not expect any delays”.

Additionally, the airport has substantial parking space available for idled fleets up to B-737 design.

Interested parties should contact the Airport Authority at 1-251-967-3968.

Jack Edwards National Airport approved for Federal Contract Tower

Jack Edwards National Airport (JKA) was notified this week that the FAA has accepted the airport as a candidate for the Federal Contract Tower Program.  With this announcement JKA is now required to provide an acceptable facility within five years.  Several FAA offices remarked that JKA set a record for the highest benefit cost ratio ever seen in the program’s history at 4.18.  In English, this means that the benefits of the tower exceed the costs associated by a factor of 4.2.  A ratio of 1.0 is required to be eligible.

 

The Gulf Shores Airport Authority actually begin design of the new tower 8 months ago in anticipation of the announcement by approving a $500,000 contract for the design phase in March 2019.  This was followed by the application process with support from Gulf Shores Mayor Robert Craft and Council.

 

“Jack Edwards National Airport serves the thriving business and tourism market in Gulf Shores, South Baldwin County, and communities along the Alabama Gulf Coast,” Mayor Robert Craft said. “This full service airport is an outstanding asset creating jobs and diversification opportunities for new and existing businesses. Jack Edwards National Airport is vital to the development and continued economic growth of the area and provides a transportation hub for anyone traveling for business, recreation, and/or relaxation.”

JKA was able to facilitate FAA Air Traffic design and site selection reviews by volunteering to be a test case to allow the FAA to streamline its previous review method, which typically took six months.  JKA set a record of two days with what is now referred to as the “Jack Edwards” process.  Tower construction is slated to be complete toward the end of December of 2020 with commissioning in Jan-Feb 2021.

MEDIA CONTACT

 Scott B. Fuller

251-967-3968

sfuller@flyjka.com

Gulf Shores Fire Department runs live-fire exercise at Jack Edwards National Airport

Posted Tuesday, August 6, 2019 12:00 am
By Melanie LeCroy

If you saw smoke billowing from Jack Edwards National Airport last week, it wasn’t an airplane accident or building fire. Gulf Shores Fire Department hosted a live-fire training exercise with the assistance of the U.S. Navy’s mobile aircraft fire trainer. Orange Beach Fire Department also participated in the training.
The airport authority purchased a Rapid Response Vehicle and donated it to the city of Gulf Shores to meet the Federal Aviation Administration requirements for 139. The rapid response vehicle is equipped to handle aircraft-based emergencies. It features foam, and Federal Aviation Administration required dry chemicals.

“In the future, the Airport Authority plans to build an airport fire station,” said Scott Fuller, airport manager.

“There are a lot of operators that need fire protection on the airport in order to come in here. Without Gulf Shores Fire Department there are many businesses we would not be able to accommodate,” Fuller said.

The airport authority purchased a Rapid Response Vehicle and donated it to the city of Gulf Shores to meet the Federal Aviation Administration requirements for 139. The rapid response vehicle is equipped to handle aircraft-based emergencies. It features foam, and Federal Aviation Administration required dry chemicals.

“In the future, the Airport Authority plans to build an airport fire station,” said Scott Fuller, airport manager.

“There are a lot of operators that need fire protection on the airport in order to come in here. Without Gulf Shores Fire Department there are many businesses we would not be able to accommodate,” Fuller said.

Gulf Shores hopes to have control tower at airport by 2021

By  on July 31, 2019

Gulf Shores officials have filed the necessary paperwork seeking permission to build a control tower at Jack Edwards Airport, following the (FFA) Federal Aviation Administration’s lifting of a 10-year moratorium on new control towers at U.S. airports. The tower will help the city develop future passenger service at Jack Edwards. Mobile, Pensacola and Destin are currently the closest airports to Gulf Shores with towers.
Gulf Shores authorized a contract for $500,000 for engineering and design for a new tower in March. The plan is to complete FAA review and design in October and begin construction in 2020. The anticipated completion date is January of 2021, according to Jack Edwards Airport Authority Manager Scott Fuller.
Earlier this month, U.S. Senator Richard Shelby announced that 20 local airports throughout Alabama would receive more than $25.9 million in Federal Aviation Administration grants, including a discretionary grant to Jack Edwards Airport of $232,066.
“Jack Edwards National Airport is a vital part of Gulf Shores, Orange Beach and the surrounding communities, and this grant will enable valuable safety improvements that will yield benefits to area travelers for years to come,’’ said Congressman Bradley Byrne. “This grant award is a part of the FAA’s FY19 Airport Improvement Program (AIP). With this discretionary grant, Jack Edwards National Airport will receive a total of $403,470 to rehabilitate taxiway lighting.’’
“The FAA was looking for an airport volunteer to try out their new site selection review process. So, we volunteered and they are expediting our process. We should be ready for bid about the time we are approved,’’ Fuller said.
“The Tower will control the airspace above the airport and out to three miles in every direction. This will provide some semblance of control as our traffic at times resembles an airshow with aircraft going in all directions at all times,’’ he added.
The tower will also reduce peak hour operations by increasing the distance between aircraft in the pattern and the number of takeoffs and landings for proper separation distances. The tower will not allow for multiple use of multiple runways at the same time, which will reduce operational numbers somewhat, and aircraft will be required to report in and be given instructions on procedures and be alerted to other aircraft positions.
“This currently is a significant reason for the over 25,000 radio transmissions per month being made between pilots trying to locate each other,’’ Fuller said. “Some companies will not allow their executives to fly into uncontrolled airports.’’
Orange Beach City Councilman Jerry Johnson, who is also a member of the Gulf Shores Airport Authority Board, said the Authority Board has been pushing for a control tower at Jack Edwards for many years.
“If it wasn’t for Richard Shelby appropriating funds and the Authority pushing it to the level that it was we don’t feel like the program would have ever been given the funds,’’ he said.
“What we are going to be doing is bringing a hopper type carrier where you can fly from here to Nashville, here to Atlanta, here to maybe Houston or Dallas. It won’t be a commercial carrier coming it. We’re not that big. But we probably will have some that will be interested in providing those type services.’’

Air Charter/Ambulance Service Now Available at Jack Edwards Airport in Gulf Shores

What does an airplane pilot do when he decides to move to our little piece of paradise? Joe Todor found the answer and it is exciting news for all of us along the Gulf Coast!

Mr. Todor spent most of his life in Denver Colorado and flew for many years as a transport pilot for medical emergencies and corporate charters. He received his pilot’s license at age 17 when he was a junior in high school. His experience with Air Charter and Air Ambulance spans 40 years in aircraft such as the Cessna 441 Conquest and the Lear jet.

In June of 2017 Joe moved from Denver to enjoy the warmer climate. He immediately saw a need for Corporate Charter and Air Ambulance along the Emerald Coast.  In April of 2018 he made application to the FAA for an Air Carrier Certificate that includes on demand Charter and Patient Transport.

After deciding to go forward with getting certification to form an Air Charter/Air Ambulance company, Joe began searching for a person that possessed both a medical and marketing background to assist him with seeing that his dream become a reality. He found her at his local doctor’s office. After meeting and getting to know Bethany Kottsick, he knew that with her medical experience and marketing experience she would be a perfect fit for the job. Chief Flight Nurse, Michelle Sherrod, was the next to join the crew and having worked on Air Ambulance before, she knew what it took to get the job done.  With Joe’s knowledge of the air charter industry, Bethany’s knowledge of marketing, and Michelle’s medical expertise he knew it was a WIN/WIN!

Finally, after 11 months of developing manuals, training programs and business organization development Joe was awarded a certificate by the FAA. Certificate number 4JLA093Q now hangs on the office wall at Jack Edwards Airport, and the King Air B200 stands ready to service the needs of the corporate community and all medical institutions here along the Gulf Coast.

“What are locals saying about this fantastic asset to our community? “

“Very exciting and there is not a more competent Pilot than Joe Todor, and this is from my personal experience. This area has needed a corporate charter for years. And the fact that we can now have an Air Ambulance service too, makes it even better! Congratulations!” Leonard Kaiser- Owner Kaiser Real Estate

“It is GREAT to see an Air Ambulance service and Charter service finally get established at Jack Edwards. I have been involved in Aviation for the last 15 years and have always seen the need for both. Joe Todor is certainly the person to make it happen!” Eddie Spence – Local Businessman and Entrepreneur

“An important Fixture at Jack Edwards Airport” Jennifer Rosnagle- Accountant Gulf Air Center

“Gulf Air center is proud to support such an asset to the community.” Shawnda Henderson-General Manager Gulf Air Center

“I’ve been a solo family practitioner in Gulf Shores since 1985 and have seen many changes during that time. The addition of an Air Ambulance has been needed for a long time and is a great addition to our healthcare services. This service allows our patients the capability for more extensive medical services quickly. Medical facilities like MD Anderson, Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic, UAB (to list a few) are just a short flight away. I am thrilled that Mr. Todor has worked to make this happen for our community.”-   Thomas J. Davidson M.D

For a QUOTE or more information, please visit their website at www.charterflightsUSA.com or www.intensiveaircare.com or call 251-233-5356.

Press Release submitted by Bethany Kottsick, Marketing Director, Charter Air Inc.

JETWINDS HANGAR FACILITY NEARING COMPLETION

Gulf Shores, Ala. – The Gulf Shores Airport Authority announced that Jetwinds, LLC, is nearing completion on their new corporate hangar facility at Jack Edwards National Airport. The new 10,000-square-foot hangar is located in the Southwest Corporate Hangar Complex and is the fourth facility added in the last 24 months.

Jetwinds, LLC entered into a land lease for 0.5 acres with the Airport Authority for construction of their new hangar.  Jetwinds expects completion and move in to take place in March.

Vic Roberts, Authority Chairman remarked that it was satisfying to see the aggressive growth taking place in the complex.  The project providing the needed infrastructure to build the Southwest Complex was completed some five years ago just prior to the economic downturn.

The Airport Authority is also considering a number of build to suit projects for commercial operations in the Business and Aviation Park at this time.

GULF SHORES AIRPORT AUTHORITY ANNOUNCES NEW HANGAR FACILITY NEARING COMPLETION

Gulf Shores, Ala. – Gulf Shores Power Sports, LLC, a national marine sales and service company, is nearing completion of their new corporate hangar facility at Jack Edwards National Airport. The new 9,100-square-foot hangar is located in the Southwest Corporate Hangar Complex and is the third facility completed in the last 24 months.

Completed earlier were a new 11 unit cabin class hangar facility and new 16,800 square foot storage facility by Fixed Base Operator Gulf Air Center.  Both leased out within weeks of completion, the latter to new MRO Resicum International/Aeropro who themselves are planning a new 22,000 + square foot facility in the Business and Aviation Park.

Vic Roberts, Authority Chairman remarked that it was satisfying to see the aggressive growth taking place in the complex.  The project providing the needed infrastructure to build the Southwest Complex was completed some five years ago just prior to the economic downturn.

The Airport Authority is also considering a number of build to suit projects for commercial operations in the Business and Aviation Park at this time.