Aaron Wypyszynski, EAA Lifetime 579057, has always loved aviation but with no flying background in his family, he and his parents turned to EAA.
“At the age of 13, they decided to see what was required for me to take flying lessons,” he said. “They also started to get me involved with the EAA. Within less than 6 months I had received my first flight lesson, first Young Eagles ride, and attended my first AirVenture. I was hooked and there was no keeping my feet on the ground after that!”
Now, almost 10 years later, Aaron has created a new way for aviation enthusiasts to get off the ground: WingBoard.
“The idea came from a childhood cartoon called TaleSpin,” Aaron said. “One of the characters, Kit Cloudkicker, would jump out of the plane throw a wing under his feet, and grab a rope from the plane and start getting towed behind. It was like wakeboarding for the sky and one night I got to wondering why no one had done that yet. It was from there that the WingBoard was born.”
Aaron added that the EAA community was a huge part of the creation of WingBoard and that he took inspiration of popular homebuilt designs.
“The community members that I have made have been critical in helping with the practical aspects of the flight as well as the fabrication and construction of our prototype (which was actually built just like a scaled down set of Long-EZ wings!),” he said. “Several of my close friends I have made through EAA, and in particular the Air Academy, have been instrumental with spreading the word about the WingBoard and making contacts that have gotten us far further than I could ever have done on my own.”
WingBoard is essentially a flying wing that the rider straps onto much like a snowboard. The rider holds onto a tow rope and controls the board by shifting his or her weight.
On October 1, Aaron appeared on Shark Tank presenting WingBoard to a group of potential investors including Virgin Airlines founder Richard Branson.
“Walking into the room with all of the Sharks was surreal, especially with Richard Branson being there,” Aaron said. “Even afterwards it was not until the episode aired that it sunk in that it had all truly happened.”
Although he didn’t end up getting a deal, Aaron said WingBoard is still in development. In addition, Aaron has contributed to the aviation community in another way by giving Young Eagles rides — a total of nearly 300 — and he said he’s working on another project with two coworkers, which will be a cross between a Wittman Buttercup and a Wittman Tailwind.
“We are 3.5 years into a 3-year project with 50-plus percent to go,” he said. “Just like many other homebuilders.”
For more information on WingBoard, see the Wyp Aviation website.
Photos by ABC/Eric McCandless, provided by Aaron Wypyszynski