My name is Bobbi Jo, and I am the office manager for Aero Spray, Inc. in Minnesota. I have a cute little story of a parts delivery for a Fire Boss working in Alaska.

I asked John Schwenk, my boss, if I could do this story and he said ok, citing the pilots always get most of the attention, so it might be good to acknowledge the efforts of some of the rest of the cast for a change!

Consider these logistics:

Our office in Appleton, MN is a three hour drive/165 miles to MSP (Minneapolis International), shopping mall in Willmar, MN is 50 miles from Appleton, the Wipaire factory is 20 minute drive to MSP, MSP is 2466 miles/6+ hour flight to Fairbanks, and McGrath, AK is almost another 300 miles from Fairbanks.

It started out on a Saturday night in June close to 6:00 PM CDT with Jesse Weaver calling our office on a satellite phone from a remote Airstrip at McGrath, Alaska to tell us that they inevitably will need to shut down one of the Fire Bosses until a specific replacement part is available to him.

Goal:

Parts installed before next shift in the morning. Within 20 minutes and a half a dozen quick cell phone calls back and forth between our boss John Schwenk, Bob Wiplinger – the President of Wipaire (his friends call him Wip), one of our computer savvy ground crew Zach Jensen and myself, we had a plan!

I was actually 50 miles away from the office shopping with my younger sister, Jamie who is brand new to our team. Zach was hanging around the office waiting to see if the wind was going to calm down. John was in town grabbing a bite to eat.

Bob Wiplinger was evidently reasonably close to his factory/facility. So, simultaneously this is what we did: Zach books a ticket for my sister Jamie on a Delta flight that leaves for Fairbanks in three hours, it was actually the last available seat on the only available flight. Bob evidently dropped whatever he was doing and drove to his facility at South St. Paul, MN airport and located the needed part.

Then, he and Chap, his assistant prepared the part for the trip by boxing it up with a handle like a suitcase. Jamie prepares herself for the impromptu trip by buying a toothbrush and toothpaste, and I drive her to the airport in the town we are shopping.

John picks her up in the Mooney and flies her to the Wipaire facilities where Wip and Chap were putting the finishing touches on the packing. They then drove her to MSP with less than an hour to spare to catch her flight to Fairbanks.

Jamie arrives a little after midnight Alaska time with the large cardboard suitcase and hands it off to Lee Roberts, our service truck driver, who procured a local charter Cessna to fly the part to the McGrath location. The part was installed before duty time that morning!

On our team the cell phone is something you answer not just if you feel like it. Take the office with you? Jamie and I had finished up our work in the office and John insisted we should leave early from work because he wanted to look like a good boss.

He was joking right? Luckily for everyone it did not effect this parts delivery mission. Bottom line is the Fire Boss never missed any flight time! Kudos to Wip and Chap! When the owner of a company the size of Wipaire shows up on a Saturday night to make a parts delivery happen, everyone here is impressed!

On our team it was Jamie that looked like a hero for taking the trip with zero notice. Jamie Otte hustles to catch her flight to Alaska with parts from Wipaire’s in Minnesota.

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