Flying the PT6A-34 Powered Quest Kodiak 100 Series II

Whether hauling cargo or passengers or dropping in on a backcountry strip, this turboprop can do it all.

Story from which first appeared here and you can read in full. The below is just an excerpt.

I’m hanging out with photo­grapher Jeff Berlin and Quest’s chief demo pilot Mark Brown beside the stunning Green River, which through the millennia has carved a deep gorge flanked by dramatic red rock cliff walls through Canyonlands National Park in Utah. The river begins at the Wind River Mountains of Wyoming and feeds into the great Colorado River, which snakes through another rock cathedral — Arizona’s Grand Canyon.

We’ve parked at Mineral Canyon (UT75), a 2,000-foot dirt airstrip in a remote location that would take several hours to get to by ground transportation. The nearest town is Moab, home to a little more than 5,000 permanent residents and thousands of tourists from all over the world in search of the outstanding mountain biking, rafting, hiking and other outdoor recreational activities the area offers.

From the Canyonlands Field Airport (CNY), west of Moab, where we started our day, this stunning spot can be reached by air in not hours but minutes, and a local company called Redtail Air uses the strip for sightseeing and to bring rafters to and from the river, Redtail’s director of air ops Nick Lamoureux says.

The Kodiak is a single-engine turboprop designed for unimproved airstrips like Mineral Canyon. While the high-wing aluminum airplane is not designed for maximum speed, it is extremely versatile. It can be outfitted for cargo ops, VIP transport, medevac, charter or just about any other type of operation an owner might dream up. Redtail started beating up Kodiaks in the Utah backcountry in 2011, and now uses two of them for all of its missions, which include mostly transport of passengers and cargo, specifically for sightseeing, rafting and charter flights.

Being designed for remote areas such as Canyonlands, which provides limitless possibilities for backcountry flying since the Utah Bureau of Land Management has no restrictions on landings on open land, reliability was a major consideration when the Kodiak was designed. The Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-34 is a small version of a legendary turbine-engine series ranging from 500 to 2,000 shp, known for its superb reliability. More than 48,000 PT6As have accumulated more than 395 million flying hours since the engine was first introduced in the 1960s, according to P&WC.

Besides the Kodiak, the PT6A-34 has proved itself with several hardworking twin- and single-engine airplanes generally designed for transportation or skydiving operations, such as the Twin Otter, Piper JetProp and Pacific Aerospace P-750 XSTOL.

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