Search, rescue and relief efforts being run through Vincent Wolanin’s PrivateSky Aviation Services.
Despite losing his own home during the wrath of Hurricane Ian, alumnus Vincent Wolanin has played a key role in the aftermath of the deadly storm.
Wolanin’s PrivateSky Aviation Services serves as the government’s mission control for search, rescue and relief efforts at Southwest Florida International Airport in Fort Myers. President Joe Biden called it “the largest search and rescue team ever assembled in the United States” when speaking at PrivateSky on Oct. 5.
Out of its hangers, dozens of heavy-lift helicopters, including Chinooks, Black Hawks, Lakotas and Ospreys, have flown missions to Sanibel Island, Captiva Island, Pine Island, Boca Grande, Fort Myers Beach, Cape Coral and surrounding areas, says the 1969 business management and marketing graduate. Hundreds of soldiers, EMS workers and volunteers have conducted rescues, located fatalities and delivered food, water, ice, fuel and medical supplies.
At least 119 people have died from the storm, which caused over $50 billion in damages to Florida and beyond.
“The storm hit the beach with an incoming push of a 52-foot wave of water and severed my home into two pieces,” Wolanin says. “It’s a total loss.”