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NTM at the controls

New Tribes Mission took delivery of its first Kodiak last week in cold, icy Sandpoint, Idaho -- a far cry from the hot, muggy tropics where the plane will help expand the reach of the Gospel.

With NTM Aviation Chief Pilot John Mark Estelle and Instructor Jason Miller at the controls, the Kodiak lifted off Thursday afternoon, bound for Arizona with a few stops in between. Plans call for the plane to be used in the Asia-Pacific region, but many details need to be worked out and more equipment needs to be installed, so no date is set for its transport overseas.

In the works currently is a schedule to get this Kodiak out where it can be seen by the people who made its purchase possible. One of those groups is the Kodiak Kids in Indianapolis, a group of then-third-graders who raised enough money for the deposit on the plane. Their signatures are inside a part of the tail of the plane, and the registration number -- N498KK -- honors their contribution.

This is the first of 14 Kodiaks that NTM has on order with Quest Aircraft. It is the 31st Kodiak produced. NTM’s next plane, expected to be serial number 81, is scheduled for completion next year. Like serial number 31, it will be assembled at Quest’s Sandpoint factory, where slabs and sheets of aluminum go in one end and planes come out the other.

The plane delivered last week was originally scheduled to be used in Papua New Guinea. However, the needs are greater in another location at this time.

Aviation gasoline is harder to come by in this country than in Papua New Guinea, which limits the use of piston-engine aircraft such as Cessna 206s, the workhorses of missionary aviation. The Kodiak, which has a turbine engine, runs on readily available jet fuel.

In addition, some locations in this area of the Asia-Pacific region have been without flight service for years, greatly hindering efforts to plant churches in remote areas.

Having flight service through the Kodiak will allow missionaries easier transportation to and from remote villages, as well as providing supplies and equipment, and speedy medical evacuation if needed for missionaries or tribal people.

POSTED ON Jan 12, 2010 by Ian Fallis