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Mission Log: KODIAK Circles the Globe

Monday, December 6, 2010…There are now two KODIAKs in JAARS’ Papua New Guinea fleet, and how they got there makes all the difference. Each of these aircraft spent time at JAARS’ HQ in Waxhaw North Carolina for training and ferry preparations before setting out on their international journeys. Then, like great arms embracing the globe, these two KODIAKs laid tracks, one to the east and one to the west, which took them all the way round to the other side of the world.

After 16,000 miles and 12 days of ferry flying, KODIAK s/n 0038 touched down on November 19 at Aiyura, the mission aviation center in the central highlands of Papua New Guinea where JAARS-trained pilots are based. This came roughly one year, and thirty Quest deliveries, after its sibling s/n 0008 arrived last September.

These two aircraft have separately seen a tremendous range of terrain: the Azores, Crete, Hawaii, the Marshall Islands, Spain, Sri Lanka, and much more. Together, these KODIAKs have literally flown around the world. And now they are both home.

Papua New Guinea has been described as “the end of the line” by veteran JAARS pilot Steve Ottaviano. The rugged terrain doesn't just separate; it isolates. To understand that is to understand how 800 distinct languages have developed in a land that covers about 285,000 square miles -- that's Texas, plus about 20,000 square miles and 799 languages. In broad terms, the KODIAKs in Papua New Guinea are serving people who don't just count on aircraft for transportation but as the only link to the world beyond the nearly impassable mountains and jungles surrounding their villages. In many cases, that link means survival.

In specific terms, KODIAKs are quickly replacing the venerable Cessna 206 aircraft -- flying faster out to the same sloping airstrips cut out of mountains and dense forest, while carrying roughly twice the load and burning much more widely available, much less expensive Jet-A.

It's almost like these KODIAKs are doing the impossible. They are broadening the world for the people of Papua New Guinea, by bridging cultures and bringing medical supplies to isolated villages. And these KODIAKs are also shrinking their world by turning a 100 mile trip -- nearly impossible on the ground -- into a 45 minute flight. The impact of the KODIAK is growing. We couldn't be more proud.

Our deep thanks to JAARS for putting KODIAK to work half way round the world and for sharing these photos. For more information please visit www.jaars.org and www.ottavianotes.blogspot.com.