Tuesday, March 06, 2007


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

The Otter served faithfully in Vietnam, and numerous were lost. This following Otter met a tragic end while in the service of her country, and "she" and her crew are remembered "proudly". All information is from Karl Hayes' "masterful" CD entitled:

De Havilland Canada

Also, at the very end of my "Post", find Karl Hayes' "Contact and CD Info"......

Otter 299

Otter 299 was delivered to the United States Army on 14th November 1958 with serial 58-1690 (tail number 81690). It was assigned to the 17th Aviation Company, Fort Ord, California. It was delivered from Downsview to the Sharpe Army Depot, Stockton, California, before continuing on to Fort Ord. It was re-assigned to the 18th Aviation Company for deployment to Vietnam in January 1962. It continued to fly for the 18th Aviation Company in Vietnam until destroyed in December 1963.

At 0722 hours on 12th December 1963, 81690 took off from Ban Me Thuot on a scheduled courier run. The crew filed a flight plan with Pyramid Control after take off and completed the first leg of their run to Nha Trang. Before take off from Nha Trang, the front and centre tanks were filled with fuel, as was the oil tank, taking three gallons after three hours of flight. In addition to the crew of three (two pilots and a crew chief), there were four passengers and three hundred pounds of baggage, making the gross weight at take off approximately 7,700 pounds. The pilot evidently elected to make the return flight to Ban Me Thuot on top of the weather, because of turbulence caused by strong winds. The route usually flown was through one of two passes to the northwest of Nha Trang. Both passes were reported open that morning, with about 1,500 feet of terrain clearance.

When the Otter became overdue on its flight plan arrival time, the Air Force notified the 18th Aviation Company. Calls were made to all possible landing fields in an attempt to locate the aircraft, with negative results. It was too late to start search operations that night, so plans were made to start at sunrise the next day. Cessna TO-1D Bird Dogs, UH-1B Huey helicopters and other 18th Aviation Company Otters participated in the search. At 1000 hours on the morning of the 13th December, one of the Bird Dogs climbing out of moderate turbulence encountered at the base of Mountain 7890, spotted a piece of metal in the trees on the side of the mountain, at the 7,400 foot level. It transpired to be the wing of the Otter. That afternoon, the advance party of the rescue and recovery team was airlifted to the top of the mountain in a UH-1B. While hovering, some of the men jumped into the brush and began clearing a landing area. The remainder of the team soon landed and the party started down the 70 degree slope towards the crash site. Sadly, all seven souls on board the Otter had perished in the crash.

The hole in the trees through which the aircraft had passed indicated that the U-1A was close to a level flight attitude when it hit the trees. The right wing was sheared off while the left wing was folded back. Fire had destroyed much of the fuselage. The cause of the crash was never determined. It appears that 81690 simply flew into the side of the mountain. The cloud tops that day were reported to be 8,000 feet, which would have obscured the top of the mountain. However, the pilot was thoroughly familiar with the terrain between Nha Trang and Ban Me Thuot and was not in the habit of flying through clouds on a VFR flight plan. It was possible that the Otter had taken a belly hit from a high calibre weapon, the impact of which killed or knocked unconscious the crew and it then flew into the mountain. Whatever the cause, Captain Clarence Moorer, 2nd Lieutenant Louis Carricarte and Crew Chief SP4 Martin of the 18th Aviation Company were the first Otter crewmen to lose their lives in the Vietnam War.

- by Karl E. Hayes

Otter 299 and her crew made the "ultimate sacrifice" in the service of their country. "I salute them".

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

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Thank you for your story on Otter 299. My name is Louis Carricarte and I was named by my father after my uncle 2nd Lieutenant Louis Carricarte that you mentioned in your story killed in Vietnam. I came upon the story accidentally but it was quite emotional for me to read. The circumstances of his final flight were not certain but the crew was experienced and familiar with the area leaving little doubt that the plane was shot down. I appreciate you honoring the sacrifice he made.
Louis, extremely pleased to hear from you. Glad to hear you were named after your Uncle, who served his country well. There were so many fine men during the Vietnam era that made tremendous sacrifices, men of outstanding character, and we should remember them "well", and hold them in the "highest regard".

Steve, thank you very much for the story on Otter 299. My name is Ed Carricarte and I am Louie's younger brother. Upon reading the story it brought back memories of Louie and our childhood together. Louie was the best of six siblings, he was just a great kind brother. He was one always there to help, did it quietly, and asked nothing in return. The story brings back many memories of him. Steve do you have the names of the three other passengers?

Thank you,
Thank you for publishing this story. 2LT Louis A. Carricarte was my uncle and from whom I received my middle name. I also served in Afghanistan and Iraq. From this account I have been able to locate the approximate location of the actual site based upon flight direction, old military maps of Mountain 7890, and satellite imagery. I am desperately trying to find the source of this information as my father (Louie's Brother) wants to return and attempt locate the actual site. He was a hero, as is all who pay the ultimate sacrifice. I want to help honor that and in the process bring closure for my father and his family with any information I can find.
A sincere thanks again.
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