Saturday, January 27, 2007


Steve's "Otter Of The Week"! Karl E. Hayes

I was thinking about Otters I "have known" the other day, and for some reason one particular Otter came to mind. I had never flown her, but she was a "regular" in Manitoba, flying for Knee Lake Lodge during the 1990s. During the winter she was stored at Selkirk Air's Base, and she sat on her floats, her ungodly "pinks and purples" getting double-takes from all the people who came to "gawk" at the airplanes. Knee Lake sold this particular Otter, and purchased an "amphibious Caravan". Then, she was gone from our area, and I never heard from her again...... I always wondered where she went. Let's find out, with the information coming from Karl Hayes' "masterful" CD entitled:

De Havilland Canada

First, some more acknowledgements from Karl.


This work would not have been possible but for the high level of co-operation received from many military units, government departments, operators and enthusiasts throughout the world and I would personally like to express my appreciation to all who have helped.


British Antarctic Survey

Captain G.Studd, Chief pilot; Bernard Moran and Fani Karagianni.


J.E.Lafontaine, Superintendent, Aircraft Licensing and Register; Miss J.F.Pedley, Aviation Safety and Investigation; the staff of Transport Canada, Civil Aviation Section, Ottawa; National Archives, Ottawa; National Library, Ottawa; Transportation Safety Board of Canada.

Civil Air Patrol

Frank O.Lowry, Chief, Office of Public Affairs; Colonel Marc Stella, Alaska Wing.

Costa Rica

Ministerio de Obras Publicas Y Transportes, San Jose.

Province of Manitoba

A.N.Dancyt, Superintendent of Maintenance, Department of Highways & Transportation;
Steve Doolan, Chief Pilot.

Province of Ontario

W.K.Warner, Chief Pilot; George Willoughby and Robert S.Grant.

Province of Quebec

Gilles Simard, Director of Operations


N.Brisbin, Director, Air Services

Saudi Arabia

Boyd Shaw, Aviation Adviser, Ministry of Petroleum & Mineral Resources, Jeddah.

United Nations

Ola Husa, Director, Office of General Services, New York; E.Sochor, Public Information Office and Emily Zay, Information Assistant, ICAO.

United States

The staff of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Oklahoma and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

Otter 197

Otter 197 was delivered to Perini McNamara Quemont, a construction company based in Montreal on 8th January 1957 with 'fixed' registration CF-PMQ. The three constituents of the firm were Perini Inc, McNamara (Quebec) Inc and Quemont Construction Inc, all of Montreal. The companies used the Otter, which was on amphibious floats, to fly construction crews to locations in the bush. The Otter, still on amphibious floats, was sold to Timmins Aviation, who subsequently sold it on for $90,000 to Eastern Provincial Airways Ltd (EPA) Gander and it was registered to them on 15th January 1959, being re-registered to Eastern Provincial Airway (1963) Ltd when the company was re-structured, following its merger with Maritime Central Airways in September 1963. Although based at Gander, the EPA Otters performed much of their flying in Labrador, based out of Goose Bay.

In 1970 Eastern Provincial Airways divested themselves of their bush operation, which was sold to senior company employees in a management buy-out, and re-named Labrador Airways, and based at Goose Bay, Labrador. PMQ was part of the deal, along with the company's other Otters, and was registered to Labrador Airways on 14th January 1971. It flew on the scheduled services of Labrador Airways from Goose Bay to the coastal communities of Labrador, and also on charter work. One incident was recorded, at Forteau Pond, Newfoundland on 26th February 1974. As the accident report states: “Overload failure; selected unsuitable terrain; rough/uneven terrain; collided with snowbank; substantial damage”. The Otter was repaired and continued in service with Labrador Airways until sold to Rog-Air Ltd of Port Loring, Ontario, to whom it was registered as C-FPMQ on 17th September 1981. After a few years flying for Rog-Air, it was sold to Lindbergh's Hunting & Fishing Air Service Ltd of Cochrane-Lillabelle Lake, Ontario, to whom it was registered on 21st January 1986.

C-FPMQ met with an accident at Sangster Lake, Ontario on 23rd August 1986. The Otter had departed from its base at 1905 hours to transport two passengers to a camp 65 miles to the northeast and return with four passengers from the same camp. While en route to the camp, the pilot was in radio communication with another pilot, who advised him of shallow water and rocks at the camp dock. Upon arriving at the camp, the pilot landed and taxied to a bay near the dock. The two passengers on board and their equipment were taken ashore and four passengers with their equipment were brought out from shore by boat. Several trips between the aircraft and the dock were required to transport the equipment. It was accordingly after sunset before the aircraft was ready for departure. While en route, twenty miles short of his destination and in the vicinity of Sangster Lake, the pilot observed lights on the shore of the lake and decided to land and remain overnight. During the landing, the pilot mis-judged the aircraft's height above the water and the aircraft struck the water in a nose-down attitude, causing the floats to separate from the aircraft which then sank. The occupants all evacuated the Otter and were rescued from the water by campers, who came out from the shore by boat.

The wrecked Otter was fished out of the lake and trucked to Kuby's Aircraft at Kenora, Ontario where over the following years it underwent a slow rebuild. When this was complete, the Otter was sold to Knee Lake Air Service Ltd of Knee Lake, Manitoba to whom it was registered on 29th July 1994. After five years operation with this company, the Otter was sold to R&J Aircraft Leasing Corporation of Anchorage, Alaska to whom it was registered N197TT on 14th July 1999. For a time the Otter was leased to Talon Air Service Inc who flew it from their base at West Mackey Lake, Soldotna, Alaska. The following year, the Otter was joined by two more, N362TT, also registered to R&J Aircraft Leasing Corp and N361TT, registered to Kakeldey Leasing Corp, an associated company. The three Otters were based at Anchorage, but leased out during the summer months to outfitters, hunting and fishing companies who use the Otters to fly their customers throughout Alaska. Up to June 2004, N197TT was flying for Alaska Air Taxi, based at Anchorage, on lease from R&J Aircraft Leasing.

In August '04 the Otter was chartered by Mavrik Aire of Kenai, Alaska, an outfitting company which flies its own Otter, a Walter Turbine conversion N103SY (296) as well as a Beaver and some single Cessnas. During the fall hunting season, Mavrik Aire operates out of Kotzebue and needed some extra capacity, so it chartered N197TT which was flown on the charter by Ronald Kakeldey, the owner of R&J Aircraft Leasing Corp and of Kakeldey Leasing Corp. Sadly, in the course of this charter, the Otter crashed on 27th August 2004 and was destroyed.

To summarise the NTSB accident report: “On Friday, 27th August 2004 about 1630 hours Alaska daylight time, a tundra tire equipped DHC-3 airplane N197TT was destroyed by impact and post-impact fire when it collided with trees and mountainous terrain about 35 miles west of McGrath, Alaska. The airplane was on a VFR cross country flight when the accident occurred. No flight plan was filed nor was one required. The Otter was one of a flight of two airplanes, transporting hunting camp supplies from Kenai to Kotzebue. The airline transport certificated pilot (Ron Kakeldey) seated in the left front seat, received serious injuries. A pilot-rated passenger seated in the right front seat received fatal injuries and a passenger in the cabin received minor injuries. Instrument meteorological conditions consisting of mist, fog and smoke from forest fires prevailed in the area of the accident. The flight originated at the McGrath Airport about 1600 hours”.

“When the Otter did not arrive at Kotzebue, the pilot of the second plane reported it overdue to the FAA around 2300 hours that Friday night. The intended route of flight was from Kenai to Port Alsworth to McGrath, and then to Unalakleet and Buckland and on to Kotzebue. Search and rescue personnel were notified but due to an extensive area of low visibility along the route of flight, an active search did not begin until the Sunday morning, 29th August. The rear seat passenger reported that the Otter departed McGrath headed for Unalakleet and was flying about 500 to 1,000 feet above the ground because of smoke and fog. He estimated the visibility at take off was about one mile. About thirty minutes after departure, the airplane was flying over mountainous terrain and appeared to be following a canyon. Visibility decreased due to fog”.

“The throw-over control yoke was positioned in front of the right seat passenger. Suddenly a mountain ridge appeared in front of the airplane. The pilot re-positioned the control yoke in front of the left seat, banked the airplane to the left and added engine power. Within a few seconds the Otter collided with several trees and descended to the ground. It came to rest upright with extensive wing and fuselage damage. The passenger said he then observed a fire near the front of the airplane. He and the pilot exited the airplane but he returned to pull the right seat passenger out of the airplane. The fire then consumed the wreckage”.

Sadly, the right seat passenger died of his injuries. Rescuers were hampered by heavy forest fire smoke and thunderstorms around McGrath all day Saturday, so that the two survivors had to spend two nights at the accident scene. The Rescue Co-Ordination Centre requested the Alaska National Guard to join the search on the Sunday morning. The Guard's 210th Rescue Squadron, based at Kulis ANGB at the Anchorage International Airport, launched a HH-60 Pavehawk helicopter and a HC-130 Hercules. The Otter's ELT had not activated, but at least they knew the route of flight. At about 1430 hours on the Sunday afternoon, the Hercules crew spotted the wreckage and two pararescuers parachuted to the scene. The two survivors were then taken to McGrath aboard the HH-60 helicopter, and then flown to hospital in Anchorage aboard the Hercules. The remains of the victim were later recovered by State troopers using a civilian helicopter.

- by Karl E. Hayes

Another "tragic" end to a piece of history.

CONTACT and CD INFO - De Havilland DHC-3 OTTER - A HISTORY by Karl E. Hayes


OTTER 197 - NTSB Accident Brief

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