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Quest bush plane gets a big lift

Thu., July 20, 2006

Quest Aircraft Co. of Sandpoint will use a $75,000 state grant to advance its goal of producing a single-engine bush plane.

The firm expects to receive Federal Aviation Administration certification later this year for the Kodiak, a versatile plane that can carry cargo or people and land on grass airstrips.

“We’re calling it rugged/refined,” said Susan Demoy, Quest’s administration manager. “You can use it for the bush or for an executive flight.”

FAA certification will allow Quest to begin producing the Kodiak for sale. The company, which has 75 employees, will ramp up to about 150 workers once production begins, Demoy said. The $75,000 state grant will reimburse Quest for training new workers.

Idaho Gov. Jim Risch announced the grant award at a ceremony Wednesday in Sandpoint. To qualify for state training dollars, companies must pay at least $12 per hour and provide health insurance.

Quest Aircraft grew out of a chance meeting between Dave Voetmann, a former Mission Aviation Fellowship pilot, and Tom Hamilton, who used to run Stoddard-Hamilton Aircraft, an airplane kit company in Arlington, Wash.

The two men started talking about specs for a sturdy turboprop plane that could be used for missionary work and humanitarian relief, and would also appeal to the executive set. Quest Aircraft was started in 1998.

Hamilton is the firm’s chief technical officer. Voetmann, a Seattle-area resident, helped raise the investment dollars to finance the company.


 

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