History Takes Flight

With a collection of more than 200 historic aircraft, the EAA Aviation Museum is a year-round destination, combining aviation's past with the promise of its exciting future.

1983 RotorWay/Nitz Executive - N3WN

Location: Homebuilts

Walter Nitz, a lifelong aviation enthusiast, bought his RotorWay Exec kit in 1982. The kit was complete to the last nut and bolt, everything packaged and labeled for clarity in assembly. The kit could be put together with pretty basic tools. Nitz used a hacksaw to cut out the parts and a hand drill clamped into a drill press rig. The only thing out of the ordinary he did to prepare himself for building his Exec was to buy a gas welding outfit and take a couple of welding courses at a local community college.

One item that required no work was the RotorWay engine. The powerplant came to Nitz having been dyno tested at the factory, complete with a sheath of paperwork documenting its manufacture, testing, and performance. Walter used a 145-hp RotorWay engine that performed flawlessly for more than 100 hours.

In the midst of building the Exec, Nitz and his wife, Ellen, moved from their condo to a slightly larger home. Before the deal was closed, however, he made it a point to visit each of his neighbors to sound out their reactions to having a private heliport in their midst. To his delight, no one had any objections, so they moved into their new digs in May 1983. The property had a good number of acres to accommodate both their heliport and garden, a place the couple liked to call their very own organic heliport.

After remodeling the existing barn into a heated, insulated shop/hangar, work on the Exec resumed. The engine and rotor blades were finished and installed in June and the attachment of the exhaust and cooling systems, the usual plumbing, wiring, and control hookups were installed shortly after.

The project took two years to complete, with about 15 months of serious part-time work on the helicopter. The kit was initially built strictly to RotorWay’s guidelines, but in the winter of 1984 the new elastomeric hub system was retrofitted. Nitz also added a defrosting system for the big bubble windshield, which doubled as a heater.

Nitz took his Exec to the fly-in at Oshkosh in 1985 and experienced the great personal satisfaction of having RotorWay founder B. J. Schramm fly his helicopter, who pronounced the Exec a well-built machine. During that convention Nitz also received EAA’s 1985 Rotorcraft Grand Champion award.

Walter Nitz donated his RotorWay Executive helicopter to the EAA Aviation Museum in 1988.

For more about RotorWay, see “RotorWay Turns 50” in the January 2017 issue of Sport Aviation magazine.

Length: 22 feet

Rotor Diameter: 25 feet

Empty Weight: 975 pounds

Gross Weight: 1,500 pounds

Cruise Speed: 95 mph

Maximum Speed: 105 mph

Seats: 2

Powerplant: RotorWay RW-145

Horsepower: 145 hp