by Steve Schapiro
The centerpiece of Wipaire’s display at Sun ‘n Fun this year, March 27 thru April 1, 2012, in Lakeland, Florida, was a custom-designed and built Cessna 206 that the company delivered to Key West Seaplanes, a charter operation in Key West, Fla. The gorgeous yellow and white aircraft attracted a lot of attention to the Wipaire display, and Wipaire President Chuck Wiplinger was on hand to answer questions and to discuss with pilots other projects the company has underway.
While Wipaire is most associated with its aircraft floats, the company also has been engineering and building high-performance modifications since 1960. The Cessna 206 delivered to Key West Seaplanes was built from parts and a complete fuselage in about three months, and has amphibious floats that will allow the plane to operate on water or land, including grass airstrips.
One of the main features are the “Wip Tips” that extend the wings by 18 inches, increasing the rate of climb and reducing the take off and landing distances. The modified tips also reduce fuel consumption and increase flying stability at low speeds.
Powered by the Wipaire IO-550 engine upgrade with the McCauley prop modification, this Cessna 206 is able to use all 300-plus horsepower continuously, boosting climb and cruise performance. Surprisingly, it has a quieter operation, which helps Key West Seaplanes fulfill its commitment to noise abatement, as it flies to Little Palm Island and other exclusive island resorts.
The aircraft also features the Wipaire copilot door installation, which adds a third door made of carbon-reinforced composite material that utilizes Cessna-manufactured hinges and latches.
The additional door provides both safety and convenience getting in and out of the plane. In the next few months, Wipaire plans to update the Cessna with its newest generation of floats and expects to be doing modifications to other aircraft in the Key West Seaplanes fleet.
Wipaire is also involved in research and development to expand the utility of the Cessna 208 Caravan, Cessna 182 Skylane, and the Aviat Husky.
The South St. Paul, Minnesota-based company is testing new Wipline 8750 floats for the Cessna Caravan and at press time, was expecting an STC in June. The 8750s will replace the Wipline 8000 floats.
Depending on an aircraft’s configuration, the new floats will increase the gross weight to 8750 pounds. The modified hull design has a steeper dead-rise angle that should provide better handling in rough water. Wiplinger said the biggest changes are a new main gear system designed to reduce maintenance and improve accessibility by having actuating components in fewer bays, as well as a more reliable oleo*. The new floats feature a pylon attachment instead of struts, which along with the new hull shape, makes them similar in design to the Wipline 13000 floats for the Twin Otter.
For the Cessna 182, Wipaire is working on a gross weight increase that will increase the gross weight to 3500 pounds. Wiplinger said he hopes to have the STC completed in July. The plan is to certify the gross weight increase on floats first and then do a “wheel plane conversion” shortly thereafter. Wipaire is also scheduled to begin work on a gross weight increase for the Aviat Husky that will increase the weight to 2250 pounds when installed on Wipline 2100 amphibious or seaplane floats. www.wipaire.com
* An oleo strut is an air-oil hydraulic shock absorber used on the landing gear of most large aircraft and many smaller ones. It cushions the impact on landing and while taxiing, and damps out vertical oscillations.
Minnesota Senator & Representative Recognized By Recreational Aviation Foundation
Senator John Carlson (R. Bemidji) and Representative David Hancock (R. Bemidji) have received national recognition from the Recreational Aviation Foundation (RAF) for their efforts to amend the Recreational Use Statute (RUS) in the State of Minnesota.
RAF President John McKenna explained: “Recreational Use Statutes give limited liability to private landowners that allow others to use their property. It’s sometimes called ‘The Good-Guy Law.’ Each state has enacted laws limiting liability for landowners that allow others to use their land, providing that no charge is made for the use, and that the landowner doesn’t intentionally create a hazard.”
The Minnesota RUS lists a number of outdoor activities, like hunting, fishing, swimming, plant and rock collecting, cave exploring, snowmobiling, and cross country skiing. While it didn’t exclude aviation, it didn’t specifically include it either, causing cautious landowners to not allow aircraft to take off and land at private airstrips. This bill makes that change.
Senator Carlson and Representative Hancock carried the bill through the Senate and the House, respectively. With the legislative session ending, many did not think that there was time enough to address the bill, but they found ways to get a hearing on it. Ultimately, the House and Senate passed different versions of the bill, which were ironed out in a late-night House-Senate Conference Committee.
“We watched the progress of the bill every day,” said RAF’s McKenna. “Sometimes, we thought there was no hope, but Sen. Carlson and Rep. Hancock didn’t give up.” The bill passed, and was signed into law by Gov. Dayton.
The bill will allow airports on public and private land to be open to the aviation public, treating aviation just like hunting, fishing, or other outdoor activities. Minnesota becomes the 15th state nationwide to change their Recreational Use Statutes to include aviation.
“This will be important for airstrip owners, pilots, cabin owners, lodge owners, sport pilots, and rural communities,” McKenna explained. “It will bring people to rural areas. It also will be useful for emergencies, allowing emergency equipment and evacuation from rural areas, and all of this didn’t cost the taxpayers of Minnesota a dime. That’s good legislation!”
The Recreational Aviation Foundation is a non-profit 501 (c) (3) corporation. It is run by volunteers, and is dedicated to preserving and protecting remote airstrips on public and private land by working with landowners and state and federal agencies. It has members in all 50 states. Information on the organization is available at http://theraf.org or by calling 406-582-1723.
Minnesota Hall of Fame 2012
BLOOMINGTON, MINN. – The Minnesota Aviation Hall of Fame inducted six Minnesota aviation personalities, April 28, 2012 at investiture ceremonies held at the Ramada Mall of America Hotel in Bloomington, Minnesota. Inductees included Orville Brede, WWII veteran, instructor pilot, pilot examiner, charter pilot and fixed base operator; Joseph Kimm, pioneer Northwest Airlines pilot; Bryan Moon, artist, former Northwest Airlines Vice President, and President of MIA Hunters, whose mission is to recover remains of missing military airmen; Kenneth Neustel, veteran of the 82nd Airborne, and the leading skydiving record holder and parachute rigger/instructor in Minnesota; Raymond Rought, Vietnam veteran, and long-time Minnesota Aeronautics Director; and Duane Wething, pilot, aircraft rebuilder, and the driving force in the development of Detroit Lakes Airport. In addition, the Hall of Fame awarded the Best Aviation Writing Award to Paul M. Sailer of Wadena, for “The Oranges Are Sweet” book, and Best Aviation Art by a Minnesotan Award to Stephen Nesser of Northfield, Minnesota. Scholarships were awarded to David Heckman of Apple Valley, Minn., and Jackson Kranz of Lakeville, Minn. For details, refer to mnaviationhalloffame.org.