The R. J. Enstrom Corporation was established in 1959 to develop an experimental light helicopter designed by Rudolph J. Enstrom. The prototype made its maiden flight in November 1960. Production of the F‑28 two‑seater began in 1963 and a limited number were built before the improved Model F‑28A appeared in 1968. This was followed shortly afterwards by the F‑28B derivative, which had a piston engine with a turbocharger, and by the T‑28 with a turbine engine.
In October 1968, the company was acquired by the Purex Corporation who then sold all its interest in Enstrom to F. Lee Bailey in January 1971, at which time production of the F‑28A was resumed. By the end of 1977 over 500 had been produced. Although not an innovative aircraft, the F‑28A performed well due to its light structure and clean lines. The extensively‑glazed forward section of the fuselage accommodated the pilot and two passengers on a single bench seat.
The power plant ‑ a 205 shp Lycoming HIO‑360‑ClB driving a three‑blade, articulated metal rotor by means of a simple transmission system ‑ is installed at the center of the fuselage. There are two fuel tanks with a total capacity of 115 liters (25.3 gallons). The semi monocoque aft fuselage section has a small vertical fin and two blade light alloy tail rotor.
The Museum aircraft, Serial # 5, was the second production helicopter built by Enstrom, in August 1966 and originally given an experimental certificate on October 17, 1966. It was flown down to Detroit and exhibited in a trade show, where it won an award for the best 1966 product design in Michigan, beating out the Ford Mustang. It was leased to an operator in Vancouver, B.C. in January 1967 and returned to the factory in Menominee, Michigan in March of that year.
In April 1967 it was modified and competed in Army trials for a new training helicopter. The original F-28 had no skylight or lower chin windows. Modifications for the Army competition included chin windows and a center pedestal instrument panel. In January 1968 the instrument panel was changed back and skylights installed. In September 1967 ownership was transferred to Airesearch Corp. where it had an Allison turbine engine installed and was operated as a "test bed" called the T-28 Prototype. In 1973 the aircraft was transferred back to Enstrom and remanufactured as a F 28-A, its present configuration. In November 1975 it was sold to Executive Helicopters in Chicago and was used by a radio station traffic patrol until 1988, flying some 8,000 hours.