Rudolph Enstrom

United States of America


1916 - 2007

Rudolph J "Rudy" Enstrom was the founder of the Enstrom Helicopter Corporation. Born on June 23, 1916, in Crystal Falls Michigan. He started his career as a mechanic in an iron mine in Michigan. 

Rudy always dreamed of designing and building his own helicopter. Starting with conceptual sketches in 1943, he began testing his home-built prototypes in 1957. For his first prototypes, Mr. Enstrom had the financial backing of a number of local businessmen. He lacked technical expertise, however, he was still able to file three patents from his first design. Eventually, investors were able to recruit a number of experienced aviation designers and the company was formed as the R.J. Enstrom Co. in 1959. Over the decades, Enstrom's business would succeed around the globe. In April 1965, the FAA issued the type certificate for Enstrom’s first helicopter, the F28, and deliveries commenced soon thereafter from his Upper Peninsula factory.

Although Rudy Enstrom's original homebuilt helicopter did not fly, it nevertheless formed the nucleus for the Enstrom Helicopter Corp., which would become known for its light and sleek designs. Eventually, he sold his company to Purex industries, and ownership would switch hands many times before it was sold to a Chinese firm.

Rudy retired in 1983 to spend more time with his family. He passed away on Sept. 25, 2007, in Iron River, Michigan. He was 91.

Vertiflite July/August 1986 - "The Trials and Tribulations of Developing New Helicopters: The Enstrom Story," Paul L. Shultz, Page 36.
Vertiflite Winter 2010 - "Exports Elevate Enstrom," Frank Colucci, Page 24.
Vertiflite May/June 2013 - "Established Designs Are Going Strong," Ian Frain, Page 38.



Milestones associated with Rudolph Enstrom
October 31, 1960 First flight of an Enstrom helicopter, the F-27
May 27, 1962 First flight of Enstrom F-28 prototype
December 31, 1978 First flight of Enstrom 280L Hawk
November 4, 1980 First flight of Enstrom F-28F Falcon
December 20, 1984 First flight of Enstrom 280FX Shark
December 31, 1988 Flight of Enstrom 280FX with Allison turboshaft
October 31, 1989 First flight of Enstrom Model 480