When most people say they're building a helicopter, visions of desktop models come to mind. However, for John Faltin, a 30-year CDT and owner of Red Rose Dental Lab in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, that's not the case. His model, a RotorWay Executive 162F, is a life-size, fully operational two-seater helicopter and, after a five-and-a-half-year building process, it's finally ready for take-off.
Faltin's love of "the bird" grew while serving in the Navy attached to the Marine Corps. While in the field, Faltin regularly had the opportunity to fly in the Marine helicopters and he was hooked. "This is a project I've wanted to do for over 30 years, ever since I was 18," he explains.
With no engineering background, he purchased a kit designed for amateur builders which boasts a 1,450-lb helicopter that can travel 180 miles without refueling, reaches a top speed of 115mph and can fly as high as 10,000 ft. The kit, which includes complete instructions, plans and all the materials necessary to build the helicopter, was missing only one ingredient: a space for assembly. "I started off building the helicopter in my garage," Faltin reminisces. "But once my wife had to start ducking under the tail rotor to get to her car, it was clear that I needed to continue building it elsewhere."
He rented space in a local hangar for the final stages of construction where he also met helicopter enthusiasts who offered guidance based on their own building experiences. He worked nights and weekends, spending approximately 18 to 20 hours per week on the project, which he deems "a labor of love."
Since the helicopter's completion in July 2007, Faltin has been working on getting his certification to fly it, which he expects to complete this month. Is he nervous to take his pride and joy up for a ride? Not a chance. "I'm so excited to fly it. We've been hovering it and other pilots have taken it up three times already. I can't wait to take it up myself."