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Ring of Fire helps Wisk Air soar

Mark Wiskemann became a pilot in 1979 and always promised himself he’d own his own business one day.

Mark Wiskemann became a pilot in 1979 and always promised himself he’d own his own business one day.

He started his career as a helicopter pilot for a Red Lake based company and moved to Thunder Bay in 1988 to work for a business at the Thunder Bay International Airport. Less than 10 years later, when that company when out of business in 1997, Wiskemann bought one of their helicopters and Wisk Air Helicopters was born.

On May 28, Wisk Air celebrated the grand opening of their new hangar that houses their fleet of helicopters.

“Here we are 13, 14 years later with 25 employees and seven or eight helicopters,” Wiskemann said Friday morning after a ribbon cutting ceremony in the year-old hangar.

Wisk Air is a charter helicopter business and their customers are anyone from mining companies and government agencies like the Ministry of Natural Resources to utility companies like Ontario Power Generation and Hydro One.

“We do have a license that allows us to work all over Canada but 95 per cent of our work is here in Thunder Bay,” Wiskemann said.

The growth of the Ring of Fire mining exploration area has also meant growth in business for Wisk Air.  With two helicopters stationed in the northern exploration area, Wiskemann said they support mining groups by moving employees and equipment, supplying camps and doing remote surveys.

“We were there in 2007 when the staking began,” Wiskemann said. “Business has increased. I wouldn’t know what percentage but it’s a significant amount. We continue to make relationships with mining and resource groups that supply and work in the area.”

With the hangar up and running for the last year, the kinks have been worked out and Wiskemann said it’s great to see how the company grown from just himself, one helicopter and a part-time mechanic over the past 13 years.

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