Thursday, October 18, 2007...Our open house this week provided an amazing opportunity to honor the legacy of our founding chairman Bruce Kennedy…to celebrate his life and his vision for a modern backcountry airplane that could carry humanitarian supplies and missionaries to remote areas around the world.
Joyce Godwin (Quest Board Chairman) introduced Bruce’s wife Karleen and their children Kevin and Karin to the over 300 people who came to Sandpoint to be a part of this celebration.
One of the great highlights today happened as Bill Ayer (Alaska Air Group’s Chairman and CEO) took the podium to honor Bruce’s tenure as former Chief Executive of Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air. Bruce led Alaska Air Group’s expansion as an international carrier before stepping down in 1991 to pursue humanitarian interests. As a tribute to this humanitarian vision Alaska Air Group committed to matching contributions to the Bruce Kennedy Memorial Fund up to a total of $500,000. As a result of this remarkable commitment Ayer presented the Kennedy family with a giant check for $435,001 made out to Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF).
Ayer explained, “We are grateful for the role Bruce played in our lives and in the lives of those less fortunate. I can think of no more fitting way to honor his life and legacy than to join with our employees to help in the effort by funding a Quest aircraft for such a deserving organization.”
Ayer announced that together Alaska Air Group and the Kennedy family have designated Asas de Socorro (Wings of Mercy) as the recipient of the memorial fund contributions. Asas de Socorro is a Brazilian aviation organization founded by MAF (US) in 1978. It is a registered and highly regarded Brazilian charitable entity specializing in aviation to provide care to isolated communities in Brazil’s vast interior. Dave Fyock (MAF Vice President of Resources) accepted the funds on behalf of Asas saying, “Asas de Socorro is extraordinarily grateful for this gift, which will enable MAF’s Brazilian affiliate to carry on the work of transporting missionaries and medical personnel as well as medicines and other supplies to those in desperate need in very remote locations.”
Wilson Kannenberg (Asas de Socorro Operations Manager) was also on hand to thank Alaska Airlines and the Kennedy family for the immeasurable good that the KODIAK will enable in the jungles of Brazil.
After other brief speeches Karleen stood and moved to the podium. Amid all the praise Karleen spoke of and for Bruce…reminding us of what he would be saying. Now with Type Certificate in hand we are at a new starting line. Now is the time to carry on and fulfill the vision.
With those words ringing in our ears we moved outside to see just how far we’ve come.
KODIAK s/n 001 spooled for takeoff and with yet another surprisingly short ground roll joined our prototype already in the air.
Echoing the day’s sentiments, Paul Schaller (Quest President and CEO) concluded, “Bruce’s passion and vision were driving forces in the development of the KODIAK. All of us at Quest are grateful to have known and worked alongside Bruce. To share in honoring his legacy and commitment to mission aviation and to this company is fitting indeed.”
Bruce, thank you for your vision, for your passion, and for your leadership. Your legacy lives on.