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 for 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 Sate of Alabama in 1977. After the purchase, the name of the Airport was changed to Jack Edwards Airport in honor of the Congressman 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 of the surrounding communities. In 1988, the City of Gulf Shores established an 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 Approach & Alignment Light System (MALER) was constructed. This allowed the airport to accommodate additional aircraft in inclement weather.
As Jack Edwards National Airport continues to grow, the continuing 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 fishing, golfing, shopping, or simply vacationing.