Enstrom helicoptershave always struck me as the ugly duckling of the helicopter world. But I have always liked the rugged simplistic look of the Enstrom as well, and who doesn't like an ugly duckling story anyway?
It really makes you think that upon initial design the engineers said "screw esthetics, let's build a helicopter that will get the job done." More and more helicopter purchasers around the world must be thinking along the same lines. I recently received a couple of photos and press releases from Jackie Kamps at Enstrom Helicopter Corporation.
Enstrom Helicopter Corp. Begins Royal Thai Army Aircraft Production
Menominee MI, March 3, 2011 – Enstrom Helicopter Corporation would like to announce that the first three, of a contracted sixteen, 480B advanced turbine training helicopters for the Royal Thai Army have been completed at the Enstrom factory. The aircraft have been equipped with a number of advanced features, including NVG compatible cockpits, Chelton EFIS systems, and dual Wulfsberg RT-5000 tactical radio systems.
“These represent some of the most advanced aircraft we have built to date,” commented Enstrom’s Director of Engineering, Bill Taylor. “That we were able to get them engineered and into production so quickly is a testament to our team in Menominee, and our support from the FAA’s Chicago Aircraft Certification Office. The Royal Thai Army is going to have some very capable helicopters.”
Enstrom Delivers First Helicopter to JGSDF
Sendai, Japan, February 25, 2011 – Enstrom Helicopter Corporation has delivered the first of a planned 30 TH-480B turbine training helicopters to the Japanese Ground Self Defense Force. The stunning blue and gold helicopter was handed over to JGSDF pilots at Enstrom’s Service Center in Japan, JAMCO, during an elaborate handover ceremony attended by JGSDF officials and the Japanese Ministry of Defense.
“This is a great day for Enstrom,” said Enstrom Helicopter Corp. President and CEO, Jerry Mullins, who attended the ceremony. “The 480B was originally designed as a training helicopter. To be chosen by a highly regarded organization, such as the JGSDF, is verification of what we started out to do with the aircraft. This is the beginning of a long relationship with the JGSDF and we couldn’t be more excited.”
For Mitsuo Hattori of Aero Facility Co. Ltd, Enstrom’s representative in Japan, it has been a long road up to this point. “Since we won the program 12 months ago, it’s been an exciting year. Aero Facility has expanded in size and contracted with Japan’s premier maintenance organization, JAMCO, to support the JGSDF. Now that the infrastructure is in place, and the first aircraft is delivered, we can look forward the next 29.”
As JGSDF pilot Hiromichi Irifune departed Sendai airport in the TH-480B, with a Kawasaki OH-1 attack helicopter in tow, Mullins commented, “There’s no doubt the 480B has been recognized as a great training helicopter. The pilots really like the helicopter and that’s the most important thing.”
There are a handfull of law enforcement agencies in the U.S. who fly Enstrom helicopters, including the Plaquemines Parish Sheriff's Office in Louisiana.