Tour the Quest Kodiak Factory

Put on your earplugs. The brand-new Quest Kodiak is a lot of airplane, and to build one, there's a whole lot of riveting going on.

Quest Kodiak

The newly certified Quest Kodiak is built in the company's factory in Sand Point, Idaho, a quiet northern Idaho resort community nestled in the mountains. With a modestly sized single runway airport, the location initially seemed unlikely to me. But after I flew the airplane, I reconsidered. Forget the runway, you could operate it out of a good-sized parking lot. And Sand Point seems perfect. Remote, rugged and beautiful, it's a great match for the airplane.

The company itself is a remarkable story. Launched to create a new, rugged, utilitarian and affordable airplane for missionary and humanitarian organizations, the company has kept its focus on the product, because the product is what it was always, and still is, all about. And the product, which is designed to help people help other people, is a real gem.

Quest is remarkable in other ways, too. In a financial world where investment capital is largely derived, or recently was, anyway, from best guesses and supercomputers leveraging the gray area of human commerce, Quest stands apart. It raised its funds from organizations looking to get airplanes to use in the mission field, and from supporters of those organizations, of course.

They'll gladly sell an airplane to you or me, you'll be glad to hear. Only, we don't get the good guys discount. In a world in which money talks too loudly sometimes, that policy seems to be okay with Quest's customers, all of them.

What's not remarkable about the company? The factory, that's what. Don't get me wrong. It's clean, it's well organized, and it's well on its way to FAA approval. In fact, by the time you read this, it might just have the production certificate.

So what's so typical? Well, the Kodiak is an all-metal airplane. And it's a low-volume airplane, to boot. The factory, with its big iron jigs, is filled with the busy sound of rivet guns hammering away, attaching one piece of sheet metal to the other. Quest builds a very high percentage of its own parts, which is one big way they keep costs down. But they take no shortcuts. When you're building an airplane that is likely to get delivered halfway around the globe in a country that doesn't have any more than one or two hard-surfaced runways, and when there are even fewer factory-trained mechanics than that, you need to get it right in the first place.

And by the look and feel of the finished product, Quest seems to have done just that.