GULF SHORES, Ala. (WKRG) — The view of Jack Edwards National Airport is quite different seven stories up from the new $6.1 million air traffic control tower. “It’s been a long dream and a lot of work,” says Airport Authority Manager Scott Fuller.
After almost 80 years of pilots and planes coming and going as they please, all that changes later this month, according to Fuller.
“Once this tower opens up they can’t even get on taxiways without permission. They’ll direct the ground movements on the airport and within four miles of this airport — you cannot enter this airspace without their permission. Their idea is to control all the traffic, which is currently uncontrolled,” Fuller said.
Controlled air traffic is the first of many changes coming in the weeks and months ahead including changing the airports’ name. “It wasn’t easy. We went through 12 names. A marketing firm surveyed a lot of travelers, they got 4,000 responses,” Fuller said.
The new name will be revealed next week during a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new tower. The only thing we know for certain is Congressman Jack Edwards’s name will still be a part of it. “We wrote Mrs. Edwards and let her know that it always will be,” Fuller said.
Exactly what the new name will be is anyone’s guess. “It needs to have Gulf Shores in it,” says pilot Barry Cooper, who routinely flies in and out of the airport.
“Well, how about Gulf Shores Jack Edwards International Airport,” laughs pilot Willie Ludwig, who adds the new changes will be a big step forward for Pleasure Island.
A new era in aviation takes off this month in Gulf Shores and from the top deck of the new control tower it looks like the second busiest airport in the state is about to get a whole lot busier.