Sunday, April 27, 2008


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

Here is a "fine ship" my good buddy "Codfish" once flew. "What a his(?)-tory!"

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

De Havilland Canada


Otter 359

Otter 359 was delivered to the RCAF on 4th May 1960 with serial 9403. The Otter was assigned to 402 Squadron, Winnipeg, which it joined on 18th May. As the Squadron history recounts: “In May 1960 the Squadron was equipped with two Otter aircraft (9403 and 9405), which joined the squadron's eight Beech C-45 Expeditors. The Otter proved to be a highly versatile aircraft and greatly increased the scope of operations. On 1st April 1961 the Squadron was transferred to Air Transport Command. This change brought the additional responsibility of the provision of regular service flights from Winnipeg west to Saskatoon as well as to many northern points and by 1964 two additional Otters (9415 and 9416) had been added to the Squadron inventory”.

In March 1963 the Squadron's Otters were used to operate 'Flying Doctor' medical services to Armstrong and Gypsumville. As well as transport taskings, the Otters participated in SAR missions, an example being on 17th November '63 when both 9403 and 9405 flew on 'SAR MacDonald', searching for a Piper PA-22 aircraft CF-IGO missing en route from Winnipeg to Kenora. Also used on this search were an Albatross and three C-47s from 111 Rescue Unit, the two Otters, and six C-45s from 402 Squadron. Otter 9403 actually found the Piper, which was on its back but both occupants were unhurt. Albatross 9309 dropped survival equipment and the two survivors were later rescued by helicopter.

By 1965 there were still four Otters on strength with 402 Squadron, and from 6th November the Otters commenced a 'scheduled' freight service each Saturday, flight RF4420 from Winnipeg to Portage, Beausejour and Gimli, and return to Winnipeg. Army personnel were flown on inspection tours in northern Manitoba. In February '65 two of the Otters flew to Snowshoe Lake, north of Lac du Bonnet, to give pilots experience in operating from frozen lakes and to instruct ground crews in caring for aircraft in cold weather. In May '65 three of the Otters took part in a search for a missing Stinson aircraft on a flight from Snake Falls to Bulging Lake, Ontario. During July the Otters were on summer camp at Penhold, as well as Camp Shilo and Camp Wainright. During August '65 Otters were stationed at Flin Flon, Manitoba to transport militia personnel engaged in a bridge building exercise. On 19th December '65 a 402 Squadron Otter dropped Christmas presents for Indian children at Jackhead Harbour on Lake Winnipeg.

Throughout 1966 there were transport taskings, Army co-operation flights, SARs and medevacs. On 16th August 1967 9403 was slightly damaged at its Winnipeg base. While parking the aircraft after refuelling at a stationary fuel pump, the starboard wingtip was damaged when it contacted a telephone pole guy wire. The damage was repaired and it was soon flying again. It continued flying for 402 Squadron until February 1976 when it was transferred to Number One Air Reserve Wing, St. Hubert, Quebec which it joined on 1st March '76, for use by 401 and 438 Squadrons. The Otter served at St. Hubert until 1st August 1981 when it departed to the Mountain View, Ontario storage depot. On 9th December '81 it was entrusted to the Crown Assets Disposal Corporation (CADC) and was sold at an auction in February 1982, advertised as having 8,189 hours total time.

9403 was one of seven ex-Canadian military Otters purchased by Newcal Aviation Inc, Little Ferry, New Jersey, being registered N3125H to Newcal Aviation in June 1982. All seven Otters were flown from Mountain View to an airstrip near Decatur, Texas where they were in outside storage for some years before being sold on. Otter 359 was sold to Wings North Fly-In Outfitters & Charter Air Service of O'Sullivan Lake, Ontario in March 1988, registered C-GMLB. In June 1993 it was sold on to Huron Air and Outfitters, Armstrong, McKenzie Lake, Ontario and in March 1994 to Waweig Lake Outfitters Ltd, Thunder Bay, Ontario. It was converted to a Vazar turbine Otter and in June 1995 registered to Wilderness North Air Ltd of Armstrong, Waweig Lake, Ontario.

After some years service with this company, the Canadian registration was cancelled on 17th January 2002 and the Otter registered N10708 to Northern Aircraft Leasing Inc of Oshkosh, Wisconsin. This is a company associated with Wilderness North Air, and the Otter went on lease to Alaska, along with N10704 (44). The lessee of both Otters was Alaska Air Taxi Inc of Anchorage. They picked up both turbine Otters at Geraldton, Ontario and flew first to Thunder Bay, Ontario, where some work was performed on the radios. The two Otters then flew on together through Saskatchewan to Grand Prairie, Alberta where they were weathered in for five days, and then onwards via Watson Lake and Whitehorse to Anchorage.

Both Otters were in service during the summer of 2002, flying from Lake Hood, Anchorage on floats. They were still in Wilderness North Air colour scheme, but with Alaska Air Taxi titles. They were used to service fishing and hunting lodges and to fly tourists and were put into storage at Anchorage for the winter of 2002/03, and put up for sale by the owners in May 2003. N10708 was advertised as having 11,257 hours total time, Part 135 certified, with an asking price of US$1,100,000 to include wheels, skis and floats. A sale evidently did not materialise, as on 2nd June 2004 the Otter reverted to C-GMLB, registered to 1401380 Ontario Ltd (Waweig Air), Armstrong, Ontario.


Otter 359

January 1st, 2008. C-GMLB. Waweig Air, Armstrong, Ontario. Vazar turbine.

- by Karl E. Hayes

More tremendous "her-story"..........



"Thanks Karl!"


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