My brother told me yesterday that his son Scott and some friends will soon be dropped off via airplane into an area on Alaska's Kodiak Island to go find a bear. I'm assuming that the critter Scott and his buddies are seeking may be a Kodiak, which is the world's largest bear and largest meat-eating land mammal.
Well, today I don't need a plane or anything other than my two legs to go find a Kodiak. I don't need to go to Alaska either. Instead, I can head out my back door, slip through a couple of fences while crossing my barnyard and one of the pastures, walk a few more feet and there will be the Kodiak with its fixed, faired leg and no pants.
This Kodiak can max out at nearly 7,000 pounds. It also puts out half whiney, half dull roar whenever it takes off toward the sky. The Kodiak I'll see today is has a white belly and a black-and-yellow backline. In short, it's a 10-place single-engine turboprop utility airplane, designed to be float capable.
Today is open house at Quest Aviation, and their young Kodiak cargo plane will be on display, probably within their new 56,000 square foot manufacturing building. The open house signals another milestone for Quest since the aircraft company first established its presence behind our home in 2001. It was then known as Packer Air, and it had moved to Sandpoint from Priest River where the idea for the Kodiak was hatched at a pontoon manufacturing plant.
Now, more than 50 engineers and other design folks along with support staff work at Quest Aviation. The company expects to increase its staff significantly once the Kodiak prototype receives its final FAA approval in 2006. At that time, the company will begin filling orders it has received since introducing the new plane at Alaskan and Wisconsin air shows. According to Quest Aviation's website (http://www.questaircraft.com/usp4.htm), by July, 12 clients---ranging from recreationalists to religious group, had placed orders for the $1 million-plus plane.
The company is targeting governmental agencies, back-country recreationalists and missionary organizations in its marketing efforts, with the first two providing the profit aspect and the latter, nonprofit. The plane is designed take off and land in restricted spaces, much like a helicopter. I've watched it do so numerous times during its testing phase over the last year.
Bill and I were also on hand with the staff during Thanksgiving week 2004 when the plane went into the air and successfully landed for the first time. We've also participated in two land trades with Quest, which have allowed them road access and convenient dimensions for their overall plant expansion. That has included the parking lot which borders our east fence.
We'll, no doubt, attend the open house, which will allow donors from all over the country to view the company's most recent progress. And, in the next few months, we expect to see lots more Kodiaks taking off and landing across the field.
Could be if my nephew decides to go hunting again for one of those huge Alaskan brown bear, a Kodiak from next door might even deposit him on the island.