Southwest Florida FBO Hosts Hurricane Ian Rescue Base

 - October 7, 2022, 10:48 AM
PrivateSky Aviation's ramp at Southwest Florida International Airport (KRSW) is supporting approximately two dozen military rescue rotorcraft. The FBO's staff, many of whom have suffered their own losses, are working to help maintain the high tempo of rescue and supply flights. (Photo: PrivateSky Aviation Services)

With areas of Florida’s Central Gulf Coast devastated last week by Hurricane Ian, rescue and relief efforts continue at many of the area airports. Southwest Florida International Airport (KRSW) in Fort Myers remains a hub of activity as responders have set up a command post there.

That post was visited by President Joe Biden, who landed at KRSW aboard Air Force One on Wednesday to view the damage in the area. Speaking at the PrivateSky Aviation Services FBO, he described the activity as "the largest search and rescue force ever assembled in the U.S.”

Victoria Wolanin, CEO of PrivateSky, the sole service provider on the field, told AIN that they were asked during the storm if they would allow their facility at KRSW to be turned into a temporary military base to facilitate search-and-rescue missions. Since then, the FBO’s hangars have become home to hundreds of National Guard members, soldiers, and EMS personnel.

A swarm of military rotorcraft—including Chinooks, Black Hawks, Lakotas, and Ospreys—has been flying missions from dawn until dusk, carrying survivors and emergency supplies to and from the heavily-impacted areas. “We couldn’t be more proud of the ladies and gentlemen of team PrivateSky, many of whom have lost their homes, but continue to show up each day to assist the National Guard with their operation to save our community at large,” said Wolanin.