SOUTH SAINT PAUL, Minn. — In celebration of 55 years of continuous float production, Wipaire has created the Ben Wiplinger Memorial Seaplane Rating Scholarship, which will be awarded in July at EAA Airventure in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
“As a longtime and active member of the seaplane community, we continually invest in people and products to better serve the industry,” stated Chuck Wiplinger, president and COO. “It only seems natural for us to share the incredible world of seaplane flying with the next generation of seaplane pilots and enthusiasts.”
Dale Fehrenbach, director of sales and marketing, added, “Making this investment is the perfect way to kick off our 55th anniversary year. As we have enjoyed participating and evolving with the seaplane industry over the years, we are looking forward to investing further in the future of seaplane flying.”
Ben Wiplinger, founder of Wipline, began his aviation career by building a Pietenpol Air Camper. He worked as a machinist, auto body technician, and aircraft mechanic before later serving in the Army Air Forces as a mechanic. While in the service, Ben developed a preoiling system to help the performance of bomber aircraft. After the war, he returned home to South St. Paul and began converting ex-military aircraft into executive and corporate aircraft with his business, Wiplinger Aircraft Service.
Ben purchased his first seaplane in 1951 and wanted to become a dealer for EDO, then the largest float manufacturer in the world. Ben’s application was not approved, so he sold Wiplinger Aircraft Service and set out to build his own floats, establishing Wipline, Inc. in 1960. Many of the features Ben incorporated in the first set of Wipline floats remain standard today.
Ben passed away in 1992, leaving the company now known as Wipaire to his son, Bob, who continues to serve as the Chief Executive Officer. Ben’s grandson Chuck now works alongside Bob as president and Chief Operating Officer.
Ben’s contributions to aviation were recognized in 1999 when he was inducted into the Minnesota Aviation Hall of Fame.
The scholarship is valued at $1,500 and will be paid directly to the winner’s designated flight school. Applicants must hold a sport pilot license or higher, and must submit the application form and a 500-word essay that includes why the applicant would like to learn to fly seaplanes, how the scholarship will help in career or aviation industry aspirations, and a statement of financial need. Applicants must also submit a copy of pilot certificate, and copy of current medical (if applicable), and must be a legal resident of the United States or Canada, excluding the province of Quebec.
The application form may be downloaded at Wipaire.com/Scholarship and will also be available at Wipaire displays at trade shows. Entries must be received by June 30, 2015.