Kids, robots, and Legos can all be found at a robotics group at the Marinette Middle School. With advisor Lynn Francour, a group of 40 sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-graders work together to create Lego robots. Ten of these students form the traveling team which attends the FIRST Lego League tournament.
FIRST is an acronym for For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology. As part of the competition, the group designs robots to perform specific tasks laid out on a course . But FIRST is about more than technology—students are also evaluated on their presentation of a group research project. Throughout the competition, the students must demonstrate the organization’s core values: Teamwork, problem-solving, friendly competition, and Gracious Professionalism.
Assisting the group were four local engineers from Enstrom Helicopter Corporation: Matt Walrath, Devin Overstreet, Jaime Martinez, and Dan Shank. They met with the group after school three days a week where they helped the students prepare for the challenges they would face during the competition.
To see science and technology applied in real life, the team was invited to visit Enstrom Helicopter across the river in Menominee, Michigan. The students rehearsed their presentation to an audience of engineers and management, and got to see where their advisors work. They toured the production facility, checked out the helicopters, and were treated to a flight display by Director of Engineering Bill Taylor. Finally, they visited the training classroom where they got an insider’s view of the workings of a helicopter.
What was their favorite part of the visit?
“I’d have to say my favorite part is watching if fly.”
“When we got to sit in the helicopter and see the control stuff.”
“Seeing the different designs of how they put the helicopter together.”
“Being able to see and actually be inside one of the helicopters they have built.”
The FIRST Lego League team and Enstrom have another connection. FIRST founder Dean Kamen, known for his inventions (including the Segway), is a former owner of Enstrom.
The Marinette team competed on November 16. “They accomplished every mission they set out to do with the robot,” said advisor Matt Walrath. “We’re eager to continue and improve.”
For the rest of the school year, the group will work on other robotics projects, then gear up again next fall for another round of FIRST Lego League.
Enstrom Helicopter Corporation celebrated delivery of the first model 480B-G to Rick Boswell of New Hampshire today. The 480B-G is equipped with the Garmin G1000H glass cockpit.
“I’m a tech junkie,” says Rick. “When I heard about the Garmin G1000H, I had to have it. Partner it with the Enstrom 480B, and it’s my perfect helicopter.”
Certification of the 480B-G was completed in July 2014, making the 480B-G the only helicopter in its class offering this sophisticated electronic equipment.
A history with Enstrom
“I learned to fly helicopters in an Enstrom,” said Rick. “On my first day of training, I knew this was the right aircraft for me.” Rick was instrumental in upgrading the avionics in his previous 480B as well.
Roger Sharkey of Sharkey’s Helicopters served as Mr. Boswell’s instructor. “The 480B has always been a phenomenal ship, rugged and reliable,” said Roger. “They have taken the unbeatable reliability of an Enstrom helicopter and paired it with the best avionics suite available today, bar none. This is the future.”
The entire Enstrom team welcomed Rick and Roger at their manufacturing facility in Menominee, Michigan. “The fine team at Enstrom worked hard to make the 480B-G a reality, and we are excited that you are the first customer for this unparalleled aircraft,” said Tracy Biegler, Enstrom’s President and CEO.
Rick meets his ship
After his initial flight, Rick’s comment was, “Spectacular! There’s a lot to learn, but after some study time and a few hours flying, it’ll be second nature.” He is also thrilled with the paint scheme, which he chose to honor the Blue Angels.
“Rick says the Enstrom 480B is one of the best-kept secrets in the aviation world,” said Orlando Alaniz, Director of Sales and Marketing at Enstrom. “That got my attention, and the 480B-G demonstrates we are working to change that.”
Garmin stops by
“We are thrilled to be a part of the 480B-G program and proud of our strong partnership with Enstrom,” said Chris Bauer, Aviation OEM Sales Manager at Garmin. “Both of our products are known for safety and reliability, making the G1000H a great fit for the 480B-G. The industry-leading situational awareness features of the G1000H provide Enstrom 480B-G customers great value.”
The 480B-G is the third helicopter model certified for the G1000H and has a stacked configuration. “This configuration just made sense in our aircraft” said Eric Gjesdahl, an avionics design engineer at Enstrom. “It mimics the current 480B configuration, allowing seamless transitions. It also makes the screens equally accessible from both seats, which is important in training.”
Sharkey’s Helicopters, Inc., is a mid-sized helicopter company based in tax-free West Lebanon, New Hampshire and is the oldest and largest Enstrom helicopter dealership in the world. In business since 1973, Sharkey’s specializes in sales, parts, and service for both Enstrom and Bell Helicopters. In addition, Sharkey’s offers full flight instruction (from basic to turbine transitions), as well as charter flights. For more information or a 480B-G demo, contact Roger Sharkey at (603) 298-8728 or visit Sharkey’s Helicopters, Inc.