Mission Aviation Fellowship recently received the first specially designed-for-mission plane, which is considered the "first fruit" of an 11-year quest for cost-efficient planes to better serve missionary agencies.
Manufacturer Quest Aircraft Co. of Sandpoint, Idaho delivered its first KODIAK 100, the first of the next-generation bush planes it produces, to MAF on Thursday. The plane is the long awaited result of the shared vision between MAF and Quest to design an aircraft that can run on jet fuel, which is cheaper than aviation gas (avgas) and in greater supply.
Most of MAF's fleet is Cessna 206's (C206), which need avgas that is often in short supply and costly in areas where the mission group operates.
Also, the KODIAK 100 can carry nearly twice the cargo – such as medicine, food or disaster relief supplies – of the C206 and will help MAF dramatically increase delivery while reducing operating costs.
"Aviation, in the minds of many, is the heart and soul of reaching the unreached peoples of the world," says John Boyd, president and chief executive officer of MAF-USA. "Missionary aircraft can take people into areas where there are no roads. They can deliver food, medicines and other supplies when roads are impassible."
"This KODIAK – the 'first fruit' of our collaborative commitment – is an amazing dream come true," he says. "Surely God's hand is in this endeavor. His work will be done, because we have been able to work together to make this day possible."
Over the next few years, MAF will replace 20 of its Cessna 206's with planes that operate on jet fuel, either KODIAK 100's or Cessna Caravans.
Profits from the commercial sales of the aircraft will subsidize a portion of the cost for each 11th plane produced. The 11th plane will be delivered to participating non-profit Christian and humanitarian aviation organizations.
Eleven years ago, MAF had helped raise funds and provided seed money to make the development of the KODIAK 100 possible.
Other mission aviation groups that joined MAF in committing funds to the Quest startup include Air Serv International, New Tribes Mission, Wycliffe Bible Translators JAARS, Mercy Air South Africa, Zululand Mission Air Transport, Misio'n Padamo, Project AmaZon, Seventh-day Adventist Church, Adventist World Aviation, Flying Mission, Moody Bible Institute, Samaritan Aviation, Arctic Barnabas Ministries, Christian Light Foundation and Asas de Socorro.
In addition to missionary agencies, the KODIAK 100 will also be used by humanitarian groups and backcountry commercial flight operators.
"Quest Aircraft was founded to provide a rugged, backcountry aircraft for remote operations for mission aviation organizations around the world on an 'at cost' basis," says Paul Schaller, president and chief executive officer of Quest Aircraft Co. "The delivery of serial number SN0011 to MAF is the first of many of these aircraft dedicated to helping mankind and spreading the Gospel."
The new KODIAK 100 will be dedicated in a public ceremony at MAF headquarters in Nampa, Idaho, on May 2. The plane will go on a multi-city tour this summer before being ferried to Papua, Indonesia – its destination of service.
Founded in 1945, MAF supports missionary teams with transportation to remote locations and provides communication, technology and education specialists to isolated people around the world. The mission group works with more than 1,000 Christian and humanitarian organizations that need to travel to isolated areas in the world. MAF, with its 134 bush aircrafts, serves in 54 countries and has an average of 281 flights daily across Africa, Asia, Eurasia, and Latin America.