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A special section for the AOPA Fly-In at gulf shores, AlabamaA special section for the AOPA Fly-In at gulf shores, Alabama

Keep on summering

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, and your destination this October. 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 us October 26 and 27 in a beautiful beach town sure to delight your senses—and challenge you to expand your aviation horizons.

AOPA Fly-In Gulf Shores
Welcome to JKA

The beach is calling

Gulf Shores is a little-known vacation treasure

AOPA Fly-In Gulf ShoresFor years, people on the southern coast of the United States kept the beaches of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Alabama, to themselves. But this little-known vacation treasure is becoming a sought-after destination and its white-sand beaches and Gulf of Mexico breezes are going to convince you that summer should last forever.

There are 32 miles of soft, sandy beaches along the stretch of coastline of Alabama. Bordered on one side by Pensacola, Florida, famous for its renowned 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! You’ll experience warm days and mild nights during the AOPA Fly-In October 26 and 27.

The sand at Gulf Shores truly is remarkable. Made up of quartz grains washed down from the Appalachian Mountains, the sand is a surprisingly bright white and unusually soft. Once you take your sandals off, you’ll walk the beach barefoot for as long as you can. It’s so soft and pillow-like, don’t be surprised if you squeak as you walk. For fishermen, Orange Beach offers the country’s largest artificial fishing reef. Gulf species include the Atlantic sailfish, amberjack, grouper, and black snapper.

The airport

AOPA Fly-In Gulf ShoresJack Edwards National Airport 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 the field in 1977 and renamed it for former U.S. Rep. Jack Edwards, who was instrumental in the city’s purchase of the airport. 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 Center, and Platinum Air Center. Each is unique. Gulf Air will host the AOPA Fly-In and is show center. Gulf Air is managed by Shawnda Henderson, below, 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. The AOPA Fly-In is presented by the ALDOT Aeronautics Bureau.

Top 10 things to do in Gulf Shores

  1. Get your toes in the sand—these sugar-white beaches are soft and squeaky.
  2. Try the Skycoaster at The Track Family Recreation Center next to Jack Edwards National Airport.
  3. Go fishing—the pier at Gulf Shores is the second largest pier on the Gulf of Mexico.
  4. Hang out at Jack’s Aces—the original terminal building is a special spot honoring our nation’s aviation military.
  5. Eat seafood. From the gumbo at LuLu’s to the fresh oysters at the Acme Oyster Co., your tummy will be very happy here.
  6. Tour the Naval Air Station Pensacola Museum and the National Flight Academy. Special tours for AOPA members.
  7. Worth the drive—see the aviation attractions in nearby Mobile, Alabama. Continental and Airbus tours for members.
  8. Tour Fort Morgan, a significant seacoast fortification built between 1819 and 1833.
  9. See the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge, a 7,000-acre site home to native flora and home for migratory birds.
  10. Fly to Jeremiah Denton Airport on Dauphin Island, a barrier island with a 3,000-foot runway on the Gulf of Mexico.

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