Wipaire Celebrates 50 Years of Wipline
In 1960, Ben Wiplinger set out ‘to build the toughest float anybody
ever stuck under an airplane.’ This was a tall order, set by an individual
with a passion for success and engineering innovation. This vision
and passion have been the driving principles for three generations of
Wiplingers and 50 years of Wipline float design and manufacturing.
Today, Wipaire, Inc. is excited about what the future holds and
proud to celebrate this historic milestone for Wipline floats.
Building a Foundation: 1940s and 1950s
Ben Wiplinger had a strong interest and background in aviation long
before he ever built his first set of Wipline floats. As a child he built his
own glider, but was never allowed to fly it. He studied aerospace engineering
at the University of
Minnesota before going to
work for Douglas Aircraft in
California. At 25, Ben returned
to Minneapolis/St. Paul as one
of only six certified aircraft
mechanics in the area. With the
war raging in Europe, Ben was
drafted into the Army Air Force
where he achieved several decorations
for his engineering contributions.
After WWII, Ben
opened Wiplinger Aircraft
Service at South St. Paul
Airport, converting surplus military
aircraft into business aircraft
for companies like 3M.
Ben purchased his first seaplane in 1951 and began flying north on
fishing expeditions, thus beginning his passion for seaplane flying. He
even developed an improved hydraulic system for his Edo floats. In
1959, Ben sold his FBO business to focus on the next chapter of
Wipline, Inc. Founded 1960
After incorporating Wipline in 1960, Ben began designing and constructing
his first set of floats. He worked with 3M to develop a metal
bonding technique that allowed him to use fewer rivets and therefore
achieve a smoother and lighter float. He also incorporated flat top
decks on the floats, allowing the pilot and passengers to maneuver into
and out of the airplane more safely. In 1961 Ben purchased a Cessna
185, N9881X, to flight test his new floats on. By 1962 he had sold his
first set of floats to Ontario Central Airlines. In the coming years, Ben
would receive FAA certification for the Cessna 185 and 206 on
Wipline 3700 floats. During the first decade of Wipline float production,
approximately 30 sets were installed on various aircraft.
Bob ‘Wip’ Wiplinger joined Wipline in 1970 after having received
his aeronautical engineering degree from the University of Minnesota.
In 1971, Ben moved Wipline to a new facility overlooking the
Mississippi River. Production increased and by the end of 1974, the
100th set of Wipline amphibious floats came off the production line.
During the 1970s, Ben and Wip took on an extensive engineering
project to float the Nomad. Though the Nomad aircraft had a short
production run, the design for the Nomad float opened the door to
other larger scale projects and became the forerunner for the popular
Wipline 8000 float. In 1974 Wip started Wipaire, Inc. to perform
maintenance as a certified Cessna Service Center at Fleming Field. In
1979, he purchased Wipline, Inc. from his father.
Continuing in a tradition of engineering excellence, Wipaire
introduced Wipline 6000 floats for the de Havilland Beaver in
1982. In 1985, the first
Wipline 8000 floats for the
Cessna Caravan were launched.
Wipaire’s largest float, the
Wipline 13000 was certified on
the de Havilland Twin Otter in
1992 and their smallest float,
the Wipline 2100 was certified
in 1997. The Wipline 2350,
3000 and 4000 also joined the
Wipline family of floats during
the 1990s. Among other modifications,
Wipaire certified a
co-pilot door and Wip Tip
wing extensions for the Cessna
206 and gross weight increases
for the Piper Cub and the
Cessna Caravan. Wipaire introduced the Boss Beaver in 1996. The
Boss combines a selection of beaver modifications, a turbine engine
and Wipline 6000 floats to create a high performance seaplane.
Wipline Floats Today
Wipaire’s tradition of engineering innovation continues today.
Wipaire received Supplemental Type Certification of their most
recent addition to the Wipline family of products, the Wipline
7000 amphibious float installed on the Quest KODIAK, on June
11th, 2010. The hulls are modeled after the successful Wipline
13000 floats, which have improved rough water handling qualities
for float-equipped aircraft. The main gear system has been completely
redesigned, which improves reliability and makes for easy
Wipaire is sharing their celebration by giving away a set of
Wipline 2100 floats during 2010. Visit Wipaire at trade shows to
register for your chance to win. The winner will be drawn at the
AOPA Summit in Long Beach, California on November 13, 2010.