Mission agencies hope to replace many airplanes in their fleets with the Kodiak. The new model uses jet fuel, which is more widely available and less costly than aviation fuel. The larger airplane, designed by the Quest Aircraft Company, will also carry more cargo. Yet the plane will still land in the same size airstrips currently used by the Cessna 206 and 185, standard missionary aircraft models for many agencies. Cessna is no longer producing the 185.

New Tribes Mission aviation director of communications Jim Sims told CT the organization hopes to replace 14 of its 26 aircraft with the Kodiak in the next 10 years.

"The Kodiak is like a huge pickup truck with wings," Sims said. "This is the plane of the future as we see it."

Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) plans to begin replacing 12 of their 54 airplanes with the Kodiak in February 2007, according to director of aviation Denny Hoekstra. The technical division for Wycliffe Bible Translators, JAARS, expects to upgrade their fleet with 10 Kodiaks.

Quest plans to manufacture the Kodiak shortly after receiving anticipated Federal Aviation Administration certification in the spring, according to Julie Stone, their marketing communications and public relations director.

"Eventually, we will be building Kodiaks at the rate of one per week," Stone said, "but we will have to ramp up to that."

Quest hopes to build 12 to 13 the first year. The base price for the Kodiak is $1.11 million.

Two pilots, one of whom previously worked with MAF, launched Quest in 2001 to design and manufacture an aircraft for humanitarian organizations that serve in geographically challenging areas.

A test pilot first flew the Kodiak in October 2004. At the end of 2005, the company completed a 57,000-square-foot expansion to the facility that will house their aircraft production line.

For every 10 commercial planes the company sells, Quest plans to give an airplane to one of the mission organizations that originally invested in the company.

Related Elsewhere:

More about Quest Aircraft is available from the organization's website.

News elsewhere includes:

Kristen Voetmann—A heritage of high-flying hearts | Kristen Voetmann grew up hearing stories about Africa.—second item (Journal Newspapers, Feb. 2, 2006)
Kodiak—The Airplane of the Future for Missions | A growing worldwide fuel crisis limiting aviation-grade gasoline seriously affects the future of the airplanes flown by JAARS. It also jeopardizes Scripture translation for many people groups around the world. (JAARS)
2005 was a year of accomplishment for the KODIAK | The KODIAK made its public debut in May at the Alaska State Aviation Trade Show in Anchorage and then at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh. (Skycontrol.net, Jan. 2006)

More on missionary aviation includes:

Moody Closes Magazine, Restructures Aviation Program | Moody Bible Institute announces strategic changes to ensure financial stability for core education program. (Feb. 25, 2003)
Martin Burnham: Willing to Go | Family and friends remember the talented pilot, mechanic, and missionary to missionaries. (June 17, 2002)
Fire in the Sky | Terrorism, drug wars, and international politics are just a few of the challenges confronting today's mission pilots. (February 4, 2002)
Flying Unfriendly Skies | Recent tragedy highlights courage, risks of mission aviators. (June 11, 2001)
Hot Zone | Missionary aviators say their risky work at times puts them in mortal danger. (May 8, 2001)
Peru's Churches Want Inquiry into Why Missionary Plane Was Shot Down | Christian leaders lament "absurd, excessive use of force" that killed Roni Bowers and her infant daughter. (May 2, 2001)
Missionaries Shot Down in Peru, Mother and Infant Killed | The Peruvian air force, acting on information from a CIA-operated surveillance plane, believed the missionaries were actually drug runners. (April 23, 2001)
MAF Pilots Killed in Mountain Crash | Nearly a dozen people made first-time professions of faith in Jesus Christ during memorial services for two Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) pilots killed in an airplane crash September 14 in Ecuador. (October 27, 1997)

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