The Revolution Blog

Wheels up on another satisfied caster customer

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Meet longtime Hamilton customer Mike Wiskus, who owns West Metro Aviation, which repairs, buys, sells and brokers general aviation aircrafts. Mike, who flew stunt planes as an aerobatic pilot for 24 years, is also the inventor of The PlaneSkate, a unique dolly system designed to tug aircrafts with flat tires off runways safely and efficiently. We were delighted to learn that Mike swears by Hamilton casters to tow even the heaviest of planes. So we caught up with him to discuss his ingenious invention, how Hamilton has helped his business take flight, and whether or not Tom Cruise movies are legit.

You used to fly stunt planes. Wow.

Wow. Yes, I did over 3,600 performances in North America for 24 years. I retired last year because I was becoming a little too fearless, but I still do a bit of instruction.

How did you come up with the idea for PlaneSkate?

I’m an Iowa farm boy. I’ve been around machinery my whole life. When planes blow tires on airport runways, it can be extremely costly and time-consuming to have them removed and serviced. One blown tire can even close down entire airports in some remote areas. So I wanted to come up with a method for clearing the runway as fast and safely as possible without doing further damage to the aircraft.

How does the PlaneSkate work?

It’s very simple to operate by just one person. So simple that you grab the tug, hook up the dolly, pull it to the plane, line up the tray, and attach the strap and winch—just like you were loading a boat. Once connected to the aircraft, the PlaneSkate can tow it back to the hangar where it can be repaired properly. The whole process can take about 30 seconds.

And how did you come to use Hamilton casters for The PlaneSkate?

At first, I tried other wheels that claimed they had a 1,500-pound capacity. But when I tested them, they were failing left and right. That company ended up refunding me my money, which I used to buy my first set of Hamilton casters. And I’ve never had an issue since. You guys have been extremely supportive.

How would you describe Hamilton casters?

I would say they’re bulletproof. When I first started working with Hamilton, I drew the dolly on a piece of paper and asked them to tell me which caster would work to tow a 10,000-pound airplane for one mile along a runway going over cracks. They came back with these 6-inchers. I’m just getting ready to order 80 more. Then I asked Hamilton what they have to tow a 75,000-pound aircraft. This one works for the largest jet corporate airplane out there. It also handles military jet fighters easily and can be loaded in about 5 minutes.

What’s next for Mike Wiskus and the PlaneSkate?

I’m designing another extremely large PlaneSkate for the military for the largest airliners ever made with a 100,000-pound payload.

Final question: What did you think of Top Gun: Maverick?

(chuckles) It was an excellent movie. Everything was pretty realistic right up until the point when they stole the fighter from the Russians.

Thanks for the insider intel, Mike. And thank you for your business. We look forward to being your caster wingmen for a long time to come.