Monday, June 02, 2008


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

Some people choose a career in life, then down the road "deviate" from it somewhat, then return to that career later. Well, this aircraft is quite similar. It flew for 29 years, then decided to become a "hangar Supervisor" for 18 years, before once again "getting the urge", and returning to the skies to "auger" across Northern Ontario.

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

De Havilland Canada


Otter 165

Otter 165 was delivered to the United States Army on 25th October 1956 with serial 55-3306 (tail number 53306). It was assigned to the 3rd Aviation Company, Fort Riley, Kansas and deployed with the Company to Illesheim, Germany in July 1957. The Company disbanded in November 1959 but 53306 remained based in Europe and by January 1962 was serving with the Headquarters Company, 205th Transportation Command in Germany until March 1962, when it joined the 2nd Military Intelligence Battalion based at Sembach Air Base, Germany. In April 1963 it joined the 245th Transportation Company based at Finthen, Germany as a support aircraft and in January '64 went to the Depot at Coleman Barracks, Mannheim, Germany for overhaul. In May '64 it was deployed to Iran, to support the Corps of Engineers on survey duties, and remained there until August 1969 when it returned to the Depot at Coleman Barracks.

From there it was transported back to the United States, arriving at the Sharpe Army Depot, Stockton, California in February 1970. After overhaul, it was assigned in July 1970 to Fort Hood, Texas as an operational support aircraft. It flew for the Air Maintenance Branch and was used to carry maintenance crews for the repair of Army aircraft around the Texas/Louisiana/Oklahoma regions. The Branch also flew a Beech C-45. This use of the Otter continued until November 1971 and the Otter was deleted from the inventory in January 1972, before being put up for disposal as military surplus. The Otter was briefly registered N1905R before being sold in Canada to Severn Enterprises Ltd of Thunder Bay, Ontario to whom it was registered CF-DDX on 5th October 1973. It was sold on to Lac Seul Airways of Ear Falls, Ontario to whom it was registered as C-FDDX on 6th February 1976. During 1978 it also carried Hanaways Flying Service titles, as well as those of Lac Seul Airways. It was registered to Red Lake Airways Ltd of Kenora, Ontario on 23rd January 1984; to Kenora Air Service Ltd on 1st June 1984 and Red Lake Airways Ltd again in January 1985, based at Red Lake, Ontario.

It was still operated by Red Lake Airways when it crashed at Vermillion Lake, Ontario on 20th June 1985. About thirty minutes after take-off, the float-equipped Otter suffered a partial power loss, and smoke began to pour out of the top of the engine cowling. The engine began to surge and then seized. The pilot decided to make an emergency landing on a lake he had just overflown. However, the Otter struck trees short of the lake and was substantially damaged. The wreck was brought to Kuby's Aircraft at Kenora, Ontario for a “slow rebuild” and stored in a hangar. On 4th January 2000, fifteen years after the crash, it was registered to Kuby's Aircraft Ltd, the rebuild not yet having started. On 4th January 2003 it was registered to Recon Air Corporation of Geraldton, Ontario, another company which specialises in the repair and rebuild of Otters, who had purchased DDX from Kuby's Aircraft. The Otter was trucked to Geraldton, where its rebuild commenced.

In January 2004 the Otter was advertised for sale as having been “stored in heated hangar for 18 years”. It had 6,753 hours total time, a “lowest time Otter”. The asking price, without engine, was $675,000 Canadian. The aircraft was ready to have a turbine engine installed, which could either be supplied by the seller or the buyer. The Otter was eventually sold, to Hearst Air Service Ltd of Hearst-Carey Lake, Ontario. Hearst Air provided a PT-6 engine and Recon Air installed the engine on the re-built Otter, creating another Vazar Turbine. C-FDDX was registered to Hearst Air Service on 27th August 2004 and delivered from Geraldton to Carey Lake, where it resumed its flying career just over nineteen years after its crash at Vermillion Lake. The Otter joined Hearst Air's fleet of two Beavers, mostly used flying fishermen, hunters and tourists to remote camps in northern Ontario. The company also supports mining exploration work in the bush, and the Otter was to be put on skis to continue this work during the winter months.


Otter 165

January 1st, 2008. C-FDDX. Hearst Air Service, Hearst, Ontario. Vazar.

- by Karl E. Hayes

Once the "lure of flight" has captured "one's imagination", it becomes part of "one's personality".....



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