Tuesday, November 13, 2007


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

The old Otter was designed to operate in a temperature range from -50*C to +50*C. We have read about Otters in the Antarctic and the Arctic, so now, let's go to Africa to look for an Otter. Here is one..........

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

De Havilland Canada


Otter 425

Otter 425 was delivered to the Ghana Air Force on 28th December 1961 with serial G307. It was the eighth of an order for twelve Otters, all of which were packed into crates and shipped to Ghana where they were re-assembled and entered service. They were based at Takoradi Air Base. The Otters continued in service with the Ghana Air Force until 1973 when they were withdrawn and put up for sale. As explained in relation to number 418, eight of the Ghana Air Force Otters were acquired by brokers Masin Aircraft of Cologne, and Otter 425 was registered to Joseph V. Masin of Rodenkirchen, West Germany as N17684. These eight Otters together with a former US Army Otter which Masin Aircraft had acquired, were sold to Air Craftsmen Ltd of St. John, New Brunswick, a company which specialised in buying, refurbishing and selling on ex-military Otters.

On 26th April 1974, Air Craftsmen Ltd reserved Canadian marks for all nine Otters. Marks C-GLCR were reserved for Otter 425. Whereas most of the ex-Ghana Air Force Otters were flown back to Canada, 425 was put into a crate and shipped to St. John, where it was rebuilt and civilianised. When this work was completed, a ferry permit was issued on 6th July 1976 for a flight from St. John, New Brunswick to Goderich, Ontario for painting and then return to St. John. There was then a change of plan, when the Otter was sold to a leasing company, Les Fonds Nordic Ltee, for lease to
Air Gava Ltee, and on 19th August 1976 the Otter was delivered from St. John to it's new base at Schefferville, Quebec and entered service with Air Gava Ltee.

C-GLCR was involved in an incident on 12th November 1979, landing at Lake McCabe after a flight from Schefferville. After landing on the frozen lake (temperature at the time was -12C) the pilot taxied the ski-equipped Otter towards the shore. As the speed of the aircraft decreased, it broke through the ice and settled in four feet of water, damaging a wing. Although it was reported that there was ten inches of blue ice on the lake, the quality and thickness of the ice closer to the shore was much less, and it was subject to water currents. The pilot was unaware of the difference in the ice conditions.

The Otter was repaired and returned to service with Air Gava Ltee, and continued flying for the company in northern Quebec until 1981, when Air Gava encountered financial difficulties and ceased trading. C&S Enterprises Ltd, aircraft brokers, of Ontario were appointed to sell Air Gava's fleet of aircraft, including its three Otters, C-FQMN (184), C-GLFL (329) and C-GLCR (425). “Steal these bank repossessions” proclaimed their advertisement. LCR had at that stage of its career a total time of 2,971 hours, was on floats, and with a new Certificate of Airworthiness had an asking price of $155,000 Canadian. The Otter was sold to 40 Mile Air of Tok, Alaska on 12th February 1982, registered N2899J. It flew for 40 Mile Air in its Air Gava colour scheme, orange overall with a white cheatline. It met with an accident on 28th October 1984 while landing on the gravel airstrip at Dan Creek near McCarthy, Alaska on a flight from Chitina. The aircraft hit a downdraft, landed hard and struck the wing on the runway surface. The undercarriage was pushed into the fuselage. The wind had been gusting to 20 knots. Temporary repairs were effected on site and the Otter was then flown to Seattle for permanent repairs, after which it resumed service with 40 Mile Air.

In December 1986 N2899J was sold to Bering Air Inc of Nome, Alaska and flew for this company until sold to Rust's Flying Service Inc, based at Anchorage Lake Hood, in June 1989. It was repainted into Rusts colour scheme, and throughout the 1990s flew for the company, becoming one of the most well-known Otters in Alaska. It was operated as a piston Otter, mostly flying tourists, hunters, fishermen etc during the summer months. After more than a decade of service as a piston Otter with Rust's, the company arranged for it to be converted to a Vazar turbine in June 2000, the work being performed by Island Flight Support Inc at Victoria, BC. It then re-entered service with Rust's as a turbine Otter.

- by Karl E. Hayes

Africa, to Canada, breaking through the ice, along with some other "bush rash", today in Alaska, and "her story" isn't over!


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