Air ambulance coming to Visalia Airport

SkyLife helicopters plans to create a base of operations at the Visalia Municipal Airport. The lease will bring $7,605 in new annual revenue for the airport’s enterprise fund, not counting fuel sales.SkyLife helicopters plans to create a base of operations at the Visalia Municipal Airport. The lease will bring $7,605 in new annual revenue for the airport’s enterprise fund, not counting fuel sales.SkyLife helicopters plans to create a base of operations at the Visalia Municipal Airport. The lease will bring $7,605 in new annual revenue for the airport’s enterprise fund, not counting fuel sales.

SkyLife helicopters will lease 845 square feet of space in the Visalia Municipal Airport administration building for crew quarters and office space to support its new Visalia-based air ambulance operation. The lease will bring in $7,605 in new annual revenue for the airport enterprise fund.

“The revenue and fuel sales will be nice, but the real benefit will be to the community as a whole,” said Mario Cifuentes, airport manager. “SkyLife’s air ambulance operation will add to the level of public health and safety for Visalia.”

SkyLife is an air ambulance operation that has provided service to the Central Valley since 1991, utilizing two helicopter air ambulances — both Bell 407s — and one fixed-wing King Air airplane.

Currently, SkyLife bases one of the helicopters and the King Air at the Fresno airport. The remaining helicopter is based at the Kings County Fire Base. SkyLife seeks to relocate one helicopter air ambulance, along with the pilot and two medical crewmembers, to Visalia from Kings County.

Kaweah connection

The basing of the air ambulance in Visalia comes just as Kaweah Delta Health Care District gets city approval to build a new $2.1 million helipad at its downtown campus with construction starting this summer.

Cifuentes said basing the 24/7-staffed air ambulance out of Visalia will decrease response time to get area emergency victims to the operating room and their Level 3 trauma team at Kaweah once the helipad is complete.

“This development is another sign that aviation is making a comeback here,” said Cifuentes, who notes that airport fuel sales are the highest in four years.