SOUTH SAINT PAUL, Minn. — Wipaire has revealed the 2016 recipients of the Ben Wiplinger Memorial Seaplane Rating Scholarship.
Established in 2015, the scholarship provides $1,500 for recipients to pursue a seaplane rating and to further the community of seaplane pilots in honor of Ben Wiplinger’s contributions. While the scholarship was originally only intended to celebrate Wipaire’s 55th anniversary in 2015, it was so successful that it was renewed for 2016 and will be available again in 2017, according to company officials.
“My dad wouldn’t have imagined what we have grown into,” said Bob Wiplinger, Ben’s son and CEO of Wipaire. “We started building floats in 1960 in order to get the quality of product we would want on our own airplanes, and that is how we still build products today. We’re proud to give back to the seaplane community and create the next generation of seaplane pilots.”
Chuck Wiplinger, Bob’s son and Ben’s grandson and President/COO of Wipaire, added, “Once again, we were humbled by the number and quality of the applicants we received. It’s rewarding to be able to grant some of these pilots the ability to achieve their dreams of seaplane flying. As always, it was a tremendous challenge to select the winners, and we encourage applicants to try again if they weren’t selected this year.”
This year’s scholarship recipients are Dawn Cook, Colin Fink, and Dr. Kimberly Kanapeckas. Both Dawn and Kimberly were finalists in 2015 but were not awarded scholarships at that time.
Dawn Cook is a kindergarten teacher in northern Minnesota who aspires to share aviation both with her kindergartners and her future flight students upon completion of her flight instructor training. She is a recently instrument-rated private pilot who will begin work on her commercial certificate over the winter, followed by her CFI and commercial single-engine sea add-on. Dawn has already earned endorsements for tailwheel, complex, and high-performance aircraft. She also received a spin endorsement in a Stearman.
Colin Fink is the first Canadian recipient of the Ben Wiplinger Memorial Seaplane Rating Scholarship. He is a recent high school graduate from northwestern Saskatchewan working towards a career flying in northern Canada. He earned his private pilot license working for Blackstone Outfitters packing and wrangling horses during his school summer vacations. He also raised show cattle to sell at the annual 4H auction to fund his training. Colin is currently building time in a Cessna 170 as he builds experience for his commercial license. Once he finishes his commercial license and floatplane rating, Colin hopes to fly Wipline float-equipped aircraft in the Yukon or Northwest Territories.
Dr. Kimberly Kanapeckas recently joined the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources as a marine scientist at the Marine Resources Research Institute in Charleston, SC. She is a private pilot with a tailwheel endorsement pursuing her instrument rating with aspirations to use her skills as a pilot for the scientific community. Her aviation background also encompasses aerobatic training, conducting research using general aviation aircraft in Africa, flying internationally in Europe, and continuing education through survival training classes. Kimberly has earned Masters and Doctorate degrees in zoology and genetics and looks forward to adding another arrow to her quiver as a marine scientist—a seaplane rating to fly wildlife surveys over water.
The scholarship application window will open in early 2017 at Wipaire.com/scholarship.