The KODIAK sim maniacally thrashed around all morning as my two classmates fought their way through emergency procedures. Today I was able to sit inside the simulator, riding around as the instructor created one system malfunction after another. Rollbacks, generator failures, fuel pump failures… sometimes these situations require IMMEDIATE landings.
I have no doubt that we would have walked away from the airplane in each situation today, but there were some hard landings. My classmates are experienced pilots, and I’m impressed by how professionally they respond to unplanned situations.
The sim is an invaluable training resource. Spokane Turbine Center is proud to operate the only type-specific KODIAK simulator in the world. Pilots from numerous missionary aviation organizations have used it, and they have been making a huge difference around the world. I’m in a class with two such pilots who will soon be serving remote people in Papua and Papua New Guinea in the name of Jesus Christ.
Why is type-specific training important? Flying turbine airplanes isn’t like borrowing your friend’s Toyota Corolla when you’re used to driving a Honda Civic. There are procedures, quirks, and specifics to know about each type of aircraft. That’s especially true when it comes to the emergency procedures practiced today.
Let’s discuss the Quest KODIAK a bit more so you get an idea of why training is so important. Aviation fuel for piston-engined airplanes has become very expensive in many areas of the world, if it is even available. Jet fuel, on the other hand, is cost-effectively available in airports worldwide. It’s the same fuel used by airlines and military aircraft. In light of limited aviation fuel availability and aging piston-engined aircraft, missionary aviation in many areas needed a fleet update.
Several turbine-powered airplanes are used in missionary aviation, notably the Cessna Caravan and the Pilatus Porter. The Quest KODIAK is unique was specifically designed for missionary use. It has that critical PT6A turbine engine, and an awesome combination of short-field airstrip performance (how else can you land on a dirt airstrip carved on the side of a mountain?) with a solid cruise speed (think efficiency over long legs). Conditions vary, but in general terms, the KODIAK will haul up to ten people or a ton of cargo for up to a thousand miles. A typical jet airliner would require at least 5,000 feet of runway for normal operations; the KODIAK can operate with less than 1,000. That’s impressive!
Our instructors are often asked: How does a KODIAK fly? “Like a KODIAK!” they respond. “And nothing else.” So how do you learn to fly it? In a simulator, with looks of good coursework. That’s why Spokane Turbine Center was formed in 2009, just as KODIAKS began joining missionary aviation fleets. It has several technologies newer to missionary aviation, including the PT6A turbine engine and the digital “glass” G1000 cockpit.
Speaking of the G1000- I had a test today on my learning, and I did okay. Not bad for a rusty old pilot!
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.