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Above: Steve Goldsworthy discusses the smooth handling he experienced while flying the Enstrom 480B with its owner, Don Belcher and Enstrom’s Director of Product Support, Bayard DuPont.

see I’m flying along at 50 percent power. At this point, Bayard tells me to let

go. Memories come back of my CFI pounding me to never let go of the cyclic. I wonder what Bayard has in mind. “Just let go of the controls” he says again. The ship just stays there, smooth, level, 80 knots. It’s kinda strange for a pilot to not be, well, pilot- ing! No hands on the cyclic or collective and no feet on the pedals and we fly along. After about 20 seconds my brain can’t take it anymore so I take hold pre- tending it’s time to make a turn down- wind.

The fact is, Bayard knows these hel-

icopters inside out, and was working on them for years before he worked at the manufacturer. We talk a bit about the number of military and police forces that are now buying Enstrom helicop- ters. While the last two years had been


tough on all manufacturers, Enstrom now has a healthy backlog of orders for the 480B and almost 100 flying in the field. I’m not sure what I am most

impressed by. The tail rotor is famous for authority, and during the flight we do some stuck pedal work. I don’t think I’ve ever been quite that sideways while on a descent to final, but Bayard is at the controls and I’m pretty confident he has done this one before. The tail is unique not just because there is no structure in its way, there is also no critical wind angles where LTE is known to lurk. There are a set of weights that act to

center the tail rotor thrust automatical- ly. The tail rotor blades have no set time limit and are replaced on condition, Bayard mentions that he has seen them get 20 plus years before replacement. In fact, one of the most impressive


things is what is missing from the POH. Besides having no fuel pumps or hydraulics to worry about, there are few limitations to try and remember as well. And everyone knows the Enstrom rotor head is bulletproof. That’s it, the word I was searching for. This helicopter feels bulletproof. “So what did you think?” Don asks

as we set down. I can’t remember my answer but all I can think of is wow, what a helicopter and how do I get one. “I

like that they have so many

orders pending,” Don says. “It means the model will be around for years to come.” He has owned this ship for about five years now and somehow agreed to allow me to come fly his aircraft around without him! For that, I would like to thank him, as the experience was great! ◆

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