Enstrom Artisans Build Helicopters with Personality

November 5th, 2018 | by scott spangler

Waggism, playful lightheartedness, is the last thing one would expect to see at a facility dedicated to the deadly serious business of building FAA-certificated aircraft. But then I met Sally, her name printed on an aluminum placard in red Sharpie on the wide end of a fixture used to build tail booms at Enstrom Helicopter in Menominee, Michigan. Curious, I asked Dan Nelson about it. Was this the work of some unknown wag, an aeronautical version of Kilroy was Here?. Taking a moment, he carefully put down his Cleco pliers and explained that Sally was the name of the piston-powered helicopter just conceived at the factory. “We started naming them some months ago,” said Dan, a sheet metal master who introduces newcomers to the craft and mentors their mastery of it. “There was a picture on Facebook of a fleet of our helicopters on the ramp for delivery, and someone said we should start naming them.” The piston-powered F-28F and 280FX get girl names, and boy names identify the turbine-powered 480B. “It’s just for fun,” he said with the unapologetic tone of a father talking about his children. Perhaps naming these gestational helicopters isn’t so waggish. Expectant parents often name…

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