Seaplane used to deliver supplies to remote areas

LAKE STEVENS — A new plane that will be used to fly supplies to remote villages in Indonesia made a stop in Snohomish County first.

An amphibious Quest Kodiak descended on Lake Stevens recently so donors and other supporters of the Mission Aviation Fellowship, which owns the plane, could get a look.

The Christian missionary organization, based in Nampa, Idaho, uses small aircraft to get supplies and people into the remote areas of developing countries.

The plane was moored Sunday at the home of Denny and Darlene Brawford, who live on Lake Stevens. About 75 people attended the viewing.

Denny Brawford, a retired 747 pilot for Pan Am and United, flew missions for the fellowship in 2004 and 2005. He still raises money and acts as an ambassador for the group.

Brawford, 73, was invited to fly the $2 million Kodiak from Paine Field to his home and back.

“It’s beautiful,” he said. “This airplane is really amazing. It performs even better than advertised, and it’s very stable.”

In another Snohomish County connection, both the Kodiak plane and its composite floats were designed by Tom Hamilton, a former Lake Goodwin resident.

Hamilton now lives in Idaho, where he founded two aircraft companies — Priest River-based Aerocet and, later, Quest, which is based in Sandpoint.

Hamilton, 61, now devotes his time to Aerocet, which specializes in building light composite aviation floats.

The floats on the new Kodiak are made of a mix of graphite and fiberglass. The floats have an advantage over traditional metal ones because they’re lighter and don’t have seams that can leak or rivets that can rust, he said.

“We really do stand behind what (the fellowship) does,” Hamilton said. “Their focus is to help people all over the world with food and medicine, they carry the gospel of Christ and we’re behind all of that.”

The Mission Aviation Fellowship, formed in 1945, has 57 planes in all, spokeswoman Dianna Gibney said.

The group specializes in getting equipment and training to Christian ministers and congregations in isolated regions. The fellowship has done work in 14 nations, including Indonesia, Haiti, Mali, Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, she said.

The organization also is hired by other relief groups to fly supplies and workers into areas where they’re needed, Gibney said.

After the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, the group’s headquarters there was used as a base of operations from which to distribute supplies to the stricken island nation, according to Gibney.

In Indonesia, the Mission Aviation Fellowship uses two Cessna 185 floatplanes to reach isolated villages in the Kalimantan region.

Those two planes are 51 and 44 years old, however, and the plan is to replace one of them with a Kodiak.

The new plane is larger, seating 10. It also can use jet fuel, which is cheaper and more plentiful than “avgas,” the aviation fuel used by most small planes, Gibney said.

The floats on the Kodiak that visited Lake Stevens were installed to test how they work on that type of aircraft, she said. The plane will have the floats removed and fly to landing strips in Papua, Indonesia. The next Kodiak purchased by the group will be fitted with the floats and used in the Kalimantan region, she said.

The Kodiak planes cost $2 million with the floats, $1.5 million without, Gibney said.

At Sunday’s event at the Brawfords’, eight people won a lottery for a quick ride in the plane.

The event was “just to show the plane to our supporters and give them a chance to see it,” Gibney said.

“We have supporters around the country who very much have a heart for Mission Aviation Fellowship and the work we do.”

Bill Sheets: 425-339-3439; sheets@heraldnet.com.

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