Quest Aircraft handed the keys to the 100th Kodiak owner with a ceremonial flourish at company headquarters in Sandpoint, Idaho, just six years after the heavy-hauling short-takeoff-and-landing specialist was certified by the FAA. The company announcement Sept. 19 noted that the Kodiak is now certified in 12 countries, and more certifications are in progress.
“Since the beginning, we have been committed to building a rugged, reliable aircraft that provides operators the versatility to accomplish any mission,” Quest Aircraft President and CEO Sam Hill said in a news release, noting that the 100 aircraft sold worldwide are “performing all types of operations.”
To wit, AOPA recently joined an expedition flown by two Kodiaks in support of The Mars Society, hauling thousands of pounds of gear and people 500 miles north of the Arctic Circle (and back). North of 60 degrees latitude, the Kodiak sparked curiosity on airport ramps from bush pilots, some of whom had never seen one before. Both aircraft handled rugged terrain and heavy loads with ease. The Kodiak can lift off in less than 1,000 feet at 7,255 maximum gross weight, leaping skyward on the turboprop power of a Pratt & Whitney PT-6.
The Kodiak’s air conditioning system was not in much demand in the Arctic, but the newest owner is likely to give it a workout: Quest reported that Sunstate Aviation in Phoenix, Ariz., is the 100th customer. Mike Watts, who took delivery, said in the news release that Sunstate was looking for a mix of comfort and cargo capacity. While fitted with a variety of creature comforts including leather padded control yokes (along with a Garmin G1000 three-screen glass panel with synthetic vision), the Kodiak has proven time and again it is very much at home far away from pavement.
A detailed pilot report was published in the March 2011 issue of AOPA Pilot, and the magazine will feature another look at the Kodiak in an upcoming issue.