The Bird Butcher of Yellowknife: Quest KODIAK Familiarization Day #3

Only virtual animals were harmed in today’s missionary training activities.

Our Canadian student slaughtered an entire flock of birds in the sim this morning. This took talent, considering his primary focus was practicing start/shutoff procedures and becoming familiar with the KODIAK’s layout.


Our simulator is the only type-specific Quest KODIAK device in the world. Donors generously gave around $1 million for this device. It’s an invaluable tool for missionaries to transition into the KODIAK, and apply what they’ve learned in our classroom to the airplane.

Sean (our sim instructor) didn’t initially notice how the computer self-populated a flock of suicidal birds and sent them hurling toward the airplane. Thudding sounds resulted, with an engine flameout immediately after takeoff (think Sully), followed by a safe emergency landing. Normally such emergency procedures are done after a pilot is comfortable in a normal sim flight, but this unexpected event only briefly interrupted training plans.

“Thanksgiving is going to be good this year,” joked the pilot. Did he mean Canadian or American Thanksgiving?

His King Air turbine experience flying around the Yukon and Northwest Territories clearly helps KODIAK transition. I watched the simulator wobble all morning as he and my other international classmate flew. Because our sim is nearly an exact copy of a KODIAK airplane, if he can fly the sim, he’ll do well in the airplane. The freak birdstrike was a glitch in an otherwise productive day of sim and more classroom time. Both Parkwater Aviation and Spokane Turbine Center have multiple customers this week, and our simulator is running all day. I’ll fly it on a day with fewer customers.


Sean the instructor watches carefully as the missionary pilots train in the sim. I’m sitting in the back watching birds die and wondering if I’ll ever be able to handle a KODIAK.


This is my second week sharing a classroom with the bird-killing Canadian. To minimize questions when traveling through certain countries, he asked not to be named in the blog. Let’s call him: The Bird Butcher of Yellowknife. I can share that he will be eventually serving with a large missionary aviation organization in Papua New Guinea.

“They say missionary aviation is a little bit of everything to the villages where our missionaries serve,” The Bird Butcher explained. “We’re the schoolbus when the missionaries’ kids are on break from boarding school. We’re the grocery store when the village needs supplies. We’re the ambulance when a missionary or a local needs help. The pinnacle is when we get to deliver translated Bibles, which take years of work. That’s what we’re really excited about.”


Birdstrikes are just one emergency situation available to Sean (sitting to the right), our instructor this morning. The sim is designed to be an exact replica of the airplane so missionaries can practice apply classroom learning in a safe, cost-effective way.

It’s great to hear The Bird Butcher’s story about his long path to missionary aviation. Like me, he too has learned dependence on God through the years of flight training and preparation. Although he doesn’t care about simulated birds, he clearly loves people.


“Aviation started out as a hobby,” he said. “But in college I visited Papua New Guinea and saw tremendous need both for missionary work and missionary aviation. I’d still be involved in reaching remote, unreached people with the love of Christ, even without airplanes. That is my calling. But God just kept opening doors for me to serve in missionary aviation, and I’m thankful to be serving others in this way.”

I’m thankful The Butcher is here at Spokane Turbine Center, and I’m glad to see how Spokane Turbine Center is equipping him for safe and cost-effective flying in Papua New Guinea. In a few years he’ll likely return for recurrent training for proficiency (including planned birdstrike scenarios), and so we too can learn from his KODIAK experience and pass along any lessons to other missionary operators.


The Bird Butcher will be flying KODIAKs in Papua New Guinea.

Flying creatures of Papua New Guinea beware: The Bird Butcher of Yellowknife is coming for you!

Spokane Turbine Center changes lives. My name is Jon, and I’m passionate about explaining how we equip missionaries to reach isolated people groups using aviation. As a rusty pilot/mechanic, I’m taking our professional missionary aviation training courses to help tell our story. 


5 thoughts on “The Bird Butcher of Yellowknife: Quest KODIAK Familiarization Day #3

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