Monday, September 15, 2008


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

From a "crate" in Toronto to Burma, to Alaska, to Minnesota to certify the Wipline 8000 floats, and back to Alaska, this aircraft is typical of the "longevity" of the de Havilland Otter...........

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

De Havilland Canada


Otter 419

Otter 419 was delivered to the Union of Burma Air Force on 28th November 1961 with serial UB659. The Air Force took delivery of nine Otters, three in December 1958 and a further batch of six in 1960/61. All were packed into crates and shipped to Burma, where they were re-assembled and entered service. Burma was subsequently re-named Myanmar. Its Air Force aircraft were re-serialled, adopting Burmese numerals, equivalent of the old serial with a '4' prefix and deleting the UB. Thus UB659 became 4659, depicted on the side of the aircraft in Burmese numerals. The Burmese Otters were withdrawn from service in 1985 and stored.

In 1989 six of the Burmese Otters were purchased by Mr Trevor Ross of Vancouver. Five were located at Mingaladon Air Base and one at Hmawbi Air Base. All six were shipped to Vancouver, where they were stored in the Aeroflite Industries hangar at the International Airport and offered for sale. They had all arrived in Vancouver by early December 1989. The buyer of Otter 419 was Pro Mech Air Inc of Ketchikan, Alaska. The Otter was first registered N472PM in March 1991 to Kenmore Air Harbor Inc of Kenmore, Seattle who prepared the Otter for its delivery, and it was then registered to Pro Mech Air in May 1991 and entered service with them, based at Ketchikan. The Otter flew for Pro Mech Air for more than three years, until sold to Wipaire Inc of Inver Grove, Minnesota. It left Ketchikan on delivery to its new owners on 29th September 1994 and was registered to them that month.

Wipaire Inc, one of the world's leading manufacturers of aircraft floats, used the Otter to test and certify its new Wipline 800 floats, both straight and amphibious. The testing was done at their facilities in Minnesota. Once the FAA had issued the STC on the new floats, the Otter was sold. The purchaser was Taquan Air Service Inc of Ketchikan, to whom the Otter was sold in March 1995, on Wipline 8000 amphibious floats. In part payment for the Otter, Taquan traded into Wipline the wreck of their Cessna Caravan on straight Wip 8000 floats, which had crashed the previous January at Craig, Alaska when it hit a submerged log on landing. Otter N472PM returned to its previous base at Ketchikan, arriving on 1st May 1995 on its ferry flight from Minnesota. It carried two PT6A-135 turbine engines as cargo, one of which was to be used to convert Otter 382 to a Vazar turbine. N472PM then entered service with Taquan Air on their scheduled services and charter flights.

One incident was recorded some months later, on 13th July 1995. The pilot had just completed a climb out from Ketchikan and was adjusting the trim for level flight when the aircraft began vibrating. He landed immediately. Examination showed that a portion of the elevator servo tab had separated. Examination of the remaining section of the servo tab showed that there were cracks in the trailing edge. After some further service with Taquan, it was arranged for the Otter to be converted as a Vazar turbine. The work was performed by Island Flight Support Ltd at Victoria, BC and N472PM then continued flying as a turbine for Taquan Air until the company ceased operations as a result of financial difficulties in December 1999. N472PM was one of a number of aircraft put up for sale at auction by the receiver of Taquan Air in May 2000. It was on EDO 7170 floats, which had replaced the Wipline 8000s. It was advertised as having a total time of 10,184 hours on the airframe, with its PT-6A engine having a total time of 7,081 hours and being in need of overhaul. It did not sell at the auction and was reported in August 2000 as “sitting forlornly on the lower ramp at Ketchikan Airport, minus propeller and with a timed-out engine”.

The receiver arranged for the Otter to be ferried to Anchorage, Alaska where a new engine was installed. It was advertised again for sale in March 2001 with a zero timed engine, asking price US$840,000 and 'ready to work'. On 9th May 2001 it was registered to American Aeromotive & Aero Energy Technologies Inc of Dover, Delaware who had supplied the engine, but remained parked at Anchorage and for sale by the receiver of Taquan Air. It was eventually sold to Anchorage-based Rustair Inc, to whom it was registered on 31st July 2002, the registration being changed the following day from N472PM to N727KT. It joined K2 Aviation, which is a division of Rustair Inc but based at the Talkeetna Airport. As its web-site proclaims: “K2 Aviation is a respected and familiar name in both the climbing community and tourism industry, having provided glacier flying service since 1979”. The Otter joined some Cessna 185s and Beavers and is used to fly tourists and climbers to glaciers in the Alaska Mountain Range, as well as to fly sight-seers around Mount McKinley, flying up to 20,000 feet - the Otter is oxygen-equipped. In March 2003, Otter N929KT (461) also joined the K2 Aviation fleet, based at Talkeetna.


Otter 419

January 1st, 2008. N727KT. Rustair Inc, Anchorage, Alaska. Vazar. Operated by K2 Aviation, Talkeetna, Alaska which is a division of Rustair.

- by Karl E. Hayes

Otters are just like old "prizefighters", knock them down, they get back up!

- N472PM of Pro Mech Air at Kenmore Air Harbor, Seattle

- N727KT of K2 Aviation at Talkeetna, Alaska September 2004, photo by Neil Aird


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