Tuesday, July 15, 2008...Even though it wasn't our plan when we started the adventure, accommodating this purchase by the Rhine Army Parachute Association (RAPA)—and adhering to new changes in FAA 337 modification and jump plane certification rules—has made KODIAK #5 the first new aircraft with a jump package certified through the FAA's Aircraft Certification Office. Right now, we believe that makes KODIAK the only such aircraft operating in the world. For us, this journey really was its own reward.
The adventure took its first major step in May, when we pulled KODIAK#5 off the production line to work on the special requirements of a factory certified jump plane. That included installation of a roll-down rear jump door that's closeable from the pilot's seat, a wing-mounted camera, a 14-inch photographer step, jump lights, and other para-friendly modifications.
Then came the tests … the recent alterations to FAA jump plane rules meant KODIAK had to be certified under requirements that are appreciably more stringent than earlier aircraft. This, along with having passed the new FAR regulations, translates to a much safer aircraft for jump operations.
British Major Paul Moore, Commandant of the Joint Services Jump Center and assigned to RAPA, worked closely with Quest during the certification process. He returned in late June to accept delivery of a fully approved and certified aircraft and to make the initial test jumps. Here he is preparing for the very first jump.
Followed closely by a smooth touchdown.
The first of many.
“Everything went very, very smoothly,” said Major Moore. “We are exceedingly pleased with the equipment and modifications that Quest made to the KODIAK. The aircraft will serve our needs very well.”
The very next day KODIAK #5 was off to Lost Prairie, Montana where a volunteer parachute jump club helped Major Moore really put the aircraft through its paces. You can see immediately why this is our kind of place…
…for days of jumping.
Then, on June 30, KODIAK #5 flew from our home base in Sandpoint, Idaho, crossed the North Atlantic, and arrived safely at RAPA's home base in Bad Lippspringe, Germany on July 5. From the photographs Major Moore sent back to us it seems there were plenty of kisses to go around.
For Quest, the quick turnaround from design to approval is testament to our team and the good people we work with at the FAA. Thank you all for your long hard work! Hearing from RAPA about KODIAK's trip to Europe was a special treat for us all. Major Moore said of the 6 day flight home, “The performance and endurance of the KODIAK was amazing. We knew this was a great airplane, but the flight home was a true testament to the outstanding performance of the KODIAK.” The flight was completed with KODIAK's standard fuel capacity. If the FAA's approval was the cake, RAPA brought the icing.
Taking our backcountry plane and turning it into a compelling jump aircraft has really brought home the old phrase “the reward for hard work is more hard work.” But we'd be lying if we said our job is thankless. It's been more than that on so many levels. By quickly adapting to the demands of the marketplace, our team really showcased its ability to deliver and came together like never before.
Now, for the first time, Quest offers a turn-key aircraft that rolls off the factory floor certified for jump operations. We believe KODIAK is a very strong option for this market. And we suspect this will lead to a very positive response not only from the large number of recreational jump clubs worldwide but also from forest service and other government agencies.
Our deepest thanks to RAPA and the FAA for this amazing journey … you guys made all the challenges worthwhile.