Minnesota company that is changing the approach to fighting wildfires delivers its 100th float

May 15, 2019 06:54 PM

A Minnesota company that is changing the strategy for fighting wildfires around the world delivered its 100th piece of unique technology Wednesday. 

Wipaire, based at Fleming Field in South St. Paul, delivered its 100th set of Fire Boss floats to an aerial firefighting operation in Chico, California. 


"We are extremely proud of the property and lives saved with the Fire Boss," said Bob Wiplinger, CEO of Wipaire, which owns Fire Boss. "Over 15 years ago, we had an idea of making a smarter, faster and dependable (single-engine air tanker). To deliver the 100th set surpasses any expectations we had at the beginning." 

RELATED: Fire Boss aircraft created in Minnesota changing wildfire strategy worldwide

The Fire Boss is a unique plane. The Wipaire floats are mounted on a powerful Air Tractor 802. It has thermal imaging to target hot spots, an onboard system that blends gel with water to make drops more effective and floats with a unique water scooping mechanism.

"And as we approach the water these come down and we land on the water and we're doing about 60 mph across the water," Wiplinger said in an interview last fall. "It pushes water up through a tube, up through the float and into the hopper of the aircraft where the water is contained.

"We're taking in anywhere from 600 to 800 gallons depending on the fuel load on the aircraft."

The whole process only takes about 15 seconds. That allows the plane to get back to the fire and drop its load much faster than other aircraft that have to return to the airport.

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Kevin Doran

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