Monday, November 17, 2008


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

Recently I had a request to detail the history of one specific Otter. Here is the comment that was left on my Blog.........

Hey Steve,
please pick C-GYKO (River Air's Otter) as your "Otter of the Week". I'd love to know about her history.

Mtka. MN

Good choice, Bruce, as I personally have met this Otter a number of times just this past year. I always knew she had a fine "pedigree", but who would have known that "she" could be mentioned in the same "breath" as Ulysses S. Grant, Robert E. Lee, Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson, George S. Patton, Omar Bradley, Douglas MacArthur, Dwight Eisenhower, and Norman Schwarzkopf? Yes, this Otter served honourably at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point for 15 years, making a valued contribution to "The Long Gray Line"!

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

De Havilland Canada


Otter 287

Otter 287 was delivered to the United States Army on 17th October 1958 with serial 58-1682 (tail number 81682). The Otter was allocated to the US Army Military Academy at West Point, New York, where it was to spend the entire of its military career. It was delivered from Downsview directly to West Point. The Otter was operated by the 2nd Aviation Detachment, which also had a UH-1A Huey helicopter, Cessna 0-1 and a Beech U-8D and a U-8F Seminole on strength. All these aircraft were based at Stewart AFB in upstate New York, but operated for the nearby Academy. At Stewart, the Detachment had taken over an old Air Force alert hangar, where they housed the Otter and other aircraft. The mission of the Detachment was the support of training of the West Point cadets, and for this purpose the Otter flew demonstration flights and parachute drops and flew freight. 81682 was in standard Army olive drab scheme, but sported the Academy crest on the tail.

The Otter continued in service until April 1973, before commencing the long cross-country flight to Tucson, Arizona where it entered the storage compounds of the Military Aircraft Storage and Disposition Centre (MASDC) at Davis-Monthan AFB on 10th June 1973, being allocated inventory code UA005. It was the fifth and last Army Otter to be stored there and its period of retirement in the Sonora Desert was less than a year. It left on 11th April 1974, having been allocated to the University of Tennessee Space Institute at Tullahoma, Tennessee to whom it was registered N22UT in April 1974. The Otter was substantially damaged in a crash at the Franklin County Airport, Winchester, Tennessee on 17th March 1975. In the course of a short field take off, during the initial climb in a left turn, the left wing dropped, the aircraft stalled and crashed back to the ground. The pilot, the only occupant, was seriously injured. That ended the Otter's career with the University of Tennessee, although they did obtain a replacement Otter, N2750 (261).

The Otter was purchased by Ontario Central Airlines of Winnipeg, Manitoba who brought the wreck to Winnipeg and rebuilt it. On 24th January 1977 a temporary Certificate of Registration as C-GYKO was issued, and a permit to test fly. Formal registration to Ontario Central Airlines was on 28th June 1977 and C-GYKO entered service, based at Gimli, Manitoba. Over the years that followed, YKO has been operated by quite a number of Canadian bush carriers. It was registered to Central Air Transport Ltd of Sioux Lookout, Ontario in 1980; Gold Belt Air Transport Ltd of Sioux Lookout in April 1987; Ashuanipi Aviation Ltd of Labrador City - Little Wabush Lake in December 1988 and Alexandair Inc of Sept Iles, Quebec in August 1990. On 5th October 1990, while flown by Alexandair, during climb out, at an altitude of two hundred feet, a loss of engine power was experienced. A forced landing was made in an alder grove one mile west of Lac Sale, Quebec. The damage was repaired. It was again registered to Ashuanipi Aviation Ltd in February 1993 and to Walsten Aircraft Parts & Leasing Inc, trading as Mandair, of Kenora, Ontario in September 1994. In June 1996 it was sold to River Air Ltd of Pistol Lake, Minaki, Ontario.

As its website proclaims: “Based in Minaki, just fifteen air miles south of the English River, is River Air, the charter service owned and operated by George and Gene Halley. Their red and white planes provide a scenic transport to whichever fly-in camp you are going to. Once there you may wish to arrange a daily fly-out fishing trip for Lake Trout, Muskie or Smallmouth Bass or to one of the more than thirty outlying lakes where we have cached boats and motors”. During 2002, the Otter flew down to Salina, Texas where it was converted to turbine power with a Garrett TPE-331 engine, becoming the fourth Texas Turbine conversion. Flown by George Halley, the return routing from Salina was via Sioux Falls, South Dakota-Mount Video, Minnesota-International Falls, Minnesota-Minaki, where it re-entered service with River Air.


Otter 287

January 1st, 2008. C-GYKO. River Air, Minaki, Ontario. Texas Turbine.

- by Karl E. Hayes

- 81682 of the US Army Military Academy, West Point (its unit crest is on the tail) in storage at Davis-Monthan AFB Arizona April 1973. Inventory Code UA005 is carried -photo by Arnold Booy

- C-GYKO of River Air with the Texas Turbine engine conversion at Minaki, Ontario May 2004 -photo by Karl Hayes

-photo by Steve Taylor, 10/08/08

Yes, she sure is one "proud soldier".......


Thanks Steve!
She's a real beauty and what a great history. I've had the privilage to fly on her a couple of times but never imagined all the places she's been and the people she's seen.

Mtka. MN
Great blog, photos and articles. Most of my fishing is done in Canada. They use a lot of float planes up there. Thanks for sharing. Wishing you tight lines and big fish. Rick
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