Florida airports were slowly resuming operations yesterday in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, which caused widespread devastation in the Caribbean and Florida Keys, but not as much destruction as feared elsewhere thanks to building code improvements and residents who heeded warnings before the massive storm.
Many pilots, aviation businesses and schools like Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach moved airplanes out of harm's way, lessening the impact of the hurricane that roared into South Florida packing winds of over 100 mph.
Several FBOs at Florida airports reported damage ranging from minor to major, with the airports in Key West, Marathon and Naples the hardest hit by the storm, which is still causing power disruptions for millions across the state.
At Naples Airport the hurricane leveled hangars, ripped off metal siding at the Naples Jet Center and caused damage to the commercial terminal as well. The control tower at the airport escaped larely unscathed.
Aircraft manufacturers including Piper and Embraer store airplanes inside hangars and covered sensitive equipment and computers with tarps. Damage at both facilities has been reported as minimal, with ongoing area power outages the biggest concern for employees.
Meanwhile, as has been widely reported, Hurricane Irma devastated St. Martin's world-famous Princess Juliana Airport and caused major damage at the airport on St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The airport on Key West has reopened for military aid flights, and Lakeland Linder Regional Airport in Central Airport is being used as a staging ground for humanitarian flights.