History of Destin - Fort Walton Beach Airport (VPS)
Destin - Fort Walton Beach Airport (VPS) is the preferred aviation gateway to Florida's Gulf Coast and is an excellent option when making travel plans. Convenient and centrally located within the top ten places to live and do business throughout the United States, Destin - Fort Walton Beach Airport is an exceptional resource for travelers who favor distinct modern amenities without congestion. Our award-winning terminal accommodates passengers from around the world with over 50 non-stop flights daily to primary hub cities across the nation, making domestic and international connections easy. Offering low fares and great values, VPS is the smart choice. Serving communities from west of Pensacola to east of Panama City and southern Alabama, the central location makes flying a breeze for over 2 million residents.
February 2021 – Southwest Airlines began daily, scheduled air service from VPS to Nashville, TN (BNA), Baltimore/Washington (BWI), Dallas, TX (DAL), Chicago, IL (MDW), Austin, TX (AUS), and Milwaukee, WI (MKE) on 737-700/800/Max 8 aircraft.
May 2019 – Silver Airways began daily, scheduled air service from VPS to Orlando International Airport (MCO) on Saab 340 aircraft.
May/June 2016 - Allegiant Air began scheduled service to VPS from Cincinnati (CVG), Ft Lauderdale (FLL), Oklahoma City (OKC), Knoxville (TYS), Memphis (MEM) and St Louis/Belleville (BLV) on A319, A320, and MD80 aircraft. The Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport is Allegiant’s newest Destination market.
March 2016 - GLO began less than daily, seasonal service from VPS to Little Rock (LIT) and New Orleans (MSY) using the 30-seat Saab 340B Aircraft.
June 2014 - Motorists coming to pick up arriving passengers can now wait in their vehicles in the free Cell Phone Parking Area. Once the arriving party reaches the terminal sidewalk with luggage in hand, he or she calls the driver and the waiting motorist can be curbside within minutes to quickly pick up the traveler and be on their way. The free Cell Phone Parking Area can accommodate up to 40 vehicles.
March 2014 - “Bark Park” opened as a convenient pet relief area to serve our four-legged passengers. The dog park will serve passengers’ pets, as well as working animals including law enforcement K-9 units, therapy dogs and dogs that assist their ADA wards.
April 2012 - The USS Okaloosa ship’s bell was unveiled at the Destin - Fort Walton Beach Airport on Apr 26, 2012, sixty-seven years to the date since she arrived off the beaches of Okinawa during the bloodiest battle of the Pacific.
March 2012 - The establishment of the Okaloosa County Airports Police Office was approved by the Okaloosa County Board of County Commissioners to provide law enforcement for the three Okaloosa County Airports.
March 2012 – US Airways launched inaugural, non-stop flights to Reagan National Airport (DCA) in Washington DC with CRJ200 aircraft. This much anticipated service began with one daily flight, but due to advanced sales a second daily flight was quickly added.
March 2011 - Vision Airlines launches the largest airline expansion in over a decade as they began service non-stop service to 15 cities from VPS. The cities include: Atlanta, GA - Asheville, NC Baton Rouge, LA - Chattanooga, TN - Columbia, SC - Greenville-Startanburg, SC - Knoxville, TN Huntsville, AL - Little Rock, AR - Louisville, KY - Orlando - Sandford, FL - Ft Myers/Punta Gorda, FL Savannah, GA/Hilton Head, SC - Shreveport, LA - St Petersburg/Clearwater, FL. All service is on B-737-400 and Dornier 328 aircraft.
December 2010 - Vision Airlines began non-stop service to Niagara Falls and Miami, Fl. This new service gives leisure travelers from Western New York and Canada a low-cost way to escape to the sunny beaches of Florida and delivers Okaloosa County residents fantastic vacation destinations only a short flight away. Travelers can now fly non-stop to Niagara Falls International Airport (IAG) and Miami thanks to new, low fare services aboard Boeing 737 aircraft with fares starting at $69 each way with two flights per week (Friday and Sunday). To book your flight go to VisionAirlines.com or call 1-877-Fly-A-Jet.
June 2010 - The USO Center "Freedom Lounge" opened its doors. The center will serve more than 30,000 troops and their families in Escambia, Okaloosa and Santa Rosa counties. Col. Bruce McClintock, commander of the 96th Air Base Wing presided over the ceremony and said “This community does the best job with caring for past, present and future warriors. We are grateful to all of you.” Special thanks to Leadership Okaloosa Class 2009-2010 for naming it as their project and for all they did in having this world class facility designed and furnished.
May 2010 - The UH-1 "Huey" Helicopter was dedicated in honor of the late Michael J. Novosel Sr., who earned a Congressional Medal of Honor for his heroics. Hundreds of people, including family members and soldiers from Fort Rucker, Ala., attended the ceremony on a sunny afternoon.
September 2009 - Military and local officials expressed support for the arrival of the 7th Special Forces Group relocating to Okaloosa County from Fort Bragg, NC by signing the Okaloosa County Military Community Covenant. Those who signed their names during a dedication ceremony for an F-15 display at Destin - Fort Walton Beach Airport included retired Air Force Col. Bud Day, Lt. Gen. Donald C. Wurster, Lt. Gen. John F. Mulholland Jr. of the Army’s Special Operations Command, mayors from six Okaloosa County cities, and county commissioners.
May 2009 — Opened Consolidated Rental Car Service Facility on new 22 acre leasehold just east of the main terminal. This facility has offices for all 5 rental car companies as well as rental car service facilities with hydraulic lifts, automated car washes, gas pumps and vacuum islands and a consolidated fuel farm for both aviation and unleaded gasoline. This $14M project came in on time and under budget and was funded entirely with rental car user fees.
April 2009 — US Airways began service with three (3) flights daily to Charlotte, NC. using CRJ 200 aircraft.
July 2005 — American Eagle began service with five (5) flights daily to Dallas/Fort Worth, TX. using 50-seat ERJ-145 aircraft.
Nov. 2004 — The Okaloosa Regional Airport has opened its doors following a major expansion program including additional public parking and aircraft parking apron, a second parallel taxiway, landscaping and a new 110,000 square foot passenger terminal. It is truly a stunning edifice with gleaming white wall panels and an emerald green standing seam steel roof. The roofline is punctuated by cupolas which provide interior light shafts. Passengers arriving at the landside are greeted by a fully landscaped park in front of the Terminal. This park not only provides calm to the senses, but it serves as a security buffer between parking and the Terminal. The interior boasts high vaulted ceilings, which create a spacious atmosphere. Passenger amenities include restroom facilities with fully automatic plumbing and paper towel dispensing. Family friendly facilities are also available. The overall friendliness and cooperative attitude of all airport employees has been further enhanced by the new facility. The pride in such a beautiful accomplishment is obvious to everyone who visits. First year passengers totaled over 800,000.
March 13, 1975 — The Okaloosa County Air Terminal located on State Road 85 opened its doors. The 32,000 sf foot facility was constructed at a cost of $1.7 million. Financing for the entire facility was through federal, state, and local monies. Federal grants totaled $472,000, state $80,000, Okaloosa County bond sale $1.1 million, and Southern Airways $190,000. First year passengers totaled 185,000 with Southern Airways as the sole airline with 12 departing flights daily.
1968 — Southern Airways began flying four DC-9 aircraft daily out of VPS and Air New Orleans began flying 2 daily operations with service to New Orleans.
1957 — The Northwest Florida Air Terminal opened on Eglin Air Force Base in building 89 with 3 personnel (Airport Manager, Security and Admin Support). Southern Airways was the lone air carrier flying 2 flights per day. Passengers would enter the base through the TAC gate on the east side of the base in Valparaiso, Fl, thus the airport code of VPS was born.