PrivateSky Aviation's ramp at KRSW with military helicopters and flooding seen in ditches
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)

Southwest Florida FBO Becomes Hurricane Ian Rescue Base

A swarm of military rotorcraft—including Chinooks, Black Hawks, Lakotas, and Ospreys—have been coming and going with supplies.

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

President Joe Biden landed at KRSW aboard Air Force One on October 5 to view 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 BJT that it was asked during the storm if it would allow its 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.