Monday, July 02, 2007


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

In early 1999 I was working for Northway Aviation Ltd., but circumstances would dictate that I would seek employment elsewhere. I was offered a job to be the Ops. Mgr. for Wildcountry Airways in Red Lake, which I accepted, on the pretext that my house was SOLD. Well, the deal on my house "fell through", and I ended up working for Blue Water Aviation of Pine Falls, MB, for a number of years, which I never regreted. Anyways, at Wildcountry I would have been flying a Beech 18 "E" Model on wheels, and DHC-3 Otter CF-ITF! Well, I always wondered about what happened to the "Otter I never flew"! Let's find out! Let's ask Karl!

All information is from Karl Hayes' "masterful" CD entitled:

De Havilland Canada


Otter 89

Otter 89 was delivered to Maxwell Ward's Wardair (later Wardair Canada Ltd) on 10th February 1956 registered CF-ITF. It immediately became a hard-working member of the Wardair fleet, based out of Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, flying alongside the company's other Otters, GBY and IFP and later JRS. The Otter features frequently in the Western SAR Area file in the National Archives, with many 'alerts' due to weather and communications difficulties in the remote areas where it operated. On 14th September 1957 CF-ITF became seriously overdue on a flight from Coppermine-Reid Island-Holman-Issacks Harbour. Air Traffic Control were requesting definite SAR action, although Wardair were taking a more relaxed attitude, presuming the pilot had set down somewhere and was holding due weather. At the request of the Winnipeg Rescue Co-Ordination Centre, the Whitehorse-based Dakota was dispatched to do a track crawl, which was discontinued when the Otter eventually made a safe arrival at 'Sachs Harbour.

Other flights noted were Yellowknife-Fort Ray-Fort Resolution (9th September '57); Yellowknife-Rae Rock-Yellowknife (2nd March '58); Hay River-Mile 60 (Mackenzie Highway)-Yellowknife on 11th March '58 (the aircraft landed en route due weather. A major search was about to get underway when the pilot managed to make contact. A Wardair Otter had already started searching and 105 Communications & Rescue Flight was on alert); Yellowknife-Tourcanis (29th May '58); Yellowknife-Mosquito Lake-Fort Reliance (1st June '58); Yellowknife-Fort Providence-Fort Simpson (26th June '58); 'Sachs Harbour-Sawmill Bay-Yellowknife (14th August '58); Aklavik-Tuk Tuk (24th September '58) and Yellowknife-Norman Wells, forced down en route by weather (4th October '58).

CF-ITF continued flying for Wardair until July 1971, when it and IFP were sold to aircraft brokers Bannock Aerospace Ltd of Toronto. ITF was sold on almost immediately, registered in August 1971 to its new owners Kyro's Albany River Airways of Jellicoe, Ontario. The following year it was sold to La Sarre Air Services Ltd of La Sarre, Quebec, registered C-FITF. It was to serve the bush country of Quebec for the next twenty years. In 1981 La Sarre Air Services merged with Air Fecteau Ltee to create Propair Inc, to which ITF was registered in September 1982. It was noted based at Chibougamau Lac Cache that month, alongside Propair Otters ODH and JUH, but during its years with Propair served at its various bases throughout Quebec.

As Propair disposed of its Otter fleet during the late 1980s, ITF was sold and registered to its new operator Aviation Sennet-Air of Senneterre, Quebec in April 1988. It remained with that company until 1992, when the company ceased trading and it then moved to Cargair Ltee of St.Michel-des-Saints, Quebec for the summer before leaving Quebec the following year when it was registered to Wildcountry Airways Ltd of Red Lake, Ontario in June 1993. After seven years service in Ontario, the Otter headed out west to the Pacific coast, when it was acquired by West Coast Resorts, who converted it to a Vazar turbine. For summer 2000 it went on lease to Pacific Coastal Airlines Ltd, to whom it was registered on 27th June 2000 and painted in their attractive colours. For that summer it was operated by Pacific Coastal, based at Bella Bella, BC and it flew PCA's schedules from Bella Bella to Klemtu, as well as flying guests for West Coast Resorts to their lodge at Whale Channel.

The Otter was then leased by West Coast Resorts to Harbour Air Ltd, to whom it was registered on 26th January 2001. It remained in Pacific Coastal's blue and white colour scheme, with Harbour Air titles. During the summer months of 2001 and 2002, the Otter was based at Sandspit on the Queen Charlotte Islands, on Wipline 8000 amphibious floats, flying to Langara Island lodge and other locations with guests of West Coast Resorts. During the other months, it flew Harbour Air's schedules and charters on straight floats based at Prince Rupert. One of the main scheduled services it flew was Harbour Air's flight 303/304, routing Prince Rupert-Masset (on Queen Charlotte Island)-Eden Lake (a logging camp)-Dinan (also a logging camp) Masset-Prince Rupert. In the course of this service on 9th January 2003, ITF came to grief landing at Eden Lake.

Conditions were “glassy water”. The Otter bounced in and then off the water, and the left float structure collapsed. The pilot and single passenger crawled out of the aircraft and were rescued by a boat sent from the Husby Forest Products camp. The Otter then sank in 23 metres of water. It was eventually fished out of its watery resting place with considerable difficulty. The Sikorsky S-61 helicopter used for this operation pulled too hard, breaking the cable and the Otter sank to the
bottom again. A second attempt was successful but some further damage was caused when the Otter was dragged across the ground. The Otter was then shipped south to Vancouver and by June 2003 had arrived at the 'Modern Wing Warehouse' in Richmond, near to the Vancouver International Airport where it was under repair, subsequently moving to the Aeroflite Industries hangar at the Vancouver International Airport. Here it was rebuilt and had scenic windows installed, and emerged from the hangar in spring 2004, entering service with Harbour Air as their eleventh Otter in June 2004.

- by Karl E. Hayes

Max Ward, "The Territories", Quebec, Red Lake, the "Wet Coast", spending time in "Davey Jones' Locker", and being resurrected! Now a "turbine Otter"! I tell you, the Douglas DC-3 and de Havilland Canada Otter are two airframes in a "class by themselves"! Now I know what happened to the "Otter I never flew"! Thanks, Karl!




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