Aero Spray, Inc. of Appleton, MN entered into the aerial fire-fighting world in 1999 with a MN-DNR “call-when-needed” contract for its AT-802A. Owner John Schwenk quickly discovered that the AT-802 was a highly cost effective spray and fire-fighting aircraft that significantly enhanced Aero Spray’s productivity and bottom line.
In 2007, Aero Spray became the first U.S. operator of the amphibious water scooping AT-802A known as the Fire Boss. Wipaire, Inc. of South St. Paul, MN had designed, built and certified its 10000 amphibious water scooping floats for the AT-802 in 2001-2003. Aero Spray was the obvious choice to become the first Fire Boss operator in the United States given the company’s success with the 802 in Minnesota (the land of 10,000 lakes). In 2009, Aero Spray’s fire team of Chief Pilot Jesse Weaver, Ground Support Supervisor Ivan Moe, and Business Development Consultant Jamie Sargent embarked on a strategy to expand the company’s fire business. Aero Spray currently operates seven Fire Bosses equipped with infrared cameras and on board foam and gel blending systems. The fleet is busy for the entire fire season on exclusive and on call contracts with Federal and State fire agencies across the country.
In 2015, the MN-DNR replaced its two aging CL-215s with four Fire Bosses and two SEATS contracted from Aero Spray. According to Bill Schuster, Wildfire Aviation Supervisor, “… this change and our “early callout” strategy have contributed to the creation of a very effective statewide aerial fire suppression program that allows the MN-DNR to respond to hundreds of fires, save millions of dollars in property and resources, and reduce program costs by over $1 million each year. We are impressed with the Fire Boss’ accuracy, maneuverability, and quick turn-around times. Aero Spray’s pilots and aircraft have proven their worth through their ability to respond in a timely manner and with great precision.”
John Schwenk attributes Aero Spray’s success to a strong team, several innovative fire managers, and the AT-802 and Fire Boss technology developed respectively by Leland Snow and Bob Wiplinger