Sunday, November 30, 2008


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

Hey, the old Otter even made "trans-Atlantic" flights. Alcock, Brown, and Lindbergh would be "proud" of this old Otter! Later on she crashed in "sea ice", survived, but then met a "fiery" end!

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

De Havilland Canada


Otter 189

Otter 189 was delivered to the United States Army on 19th December 1956 with serial 55-3321 (tail number 53321). It first served with the 3rd Aviation Company, Fort Riley, Kansas and moved with the unit when it deployed to Germany in July 1957, establishing at Illesheim. The 3rd Aviation Company disbanded in November 1959. 53321 was then assigned to the 2nd Military Intelligence Battalion, Sembach Air Base, Germany where it continued to serve until February 1966. After a few months at the depot at Mannheim, the Otter was assigned to US Logistics Group, Turkey (TUSLOG), Detachment 4, based at Sinop Army Airfield.

Also based at Sinop were a pair of Beech U-8 Seminoles which, together with the Otter, served this remote outpost. Detachment 4's aviation section became known informally as “Esek Airlines” (an esek being a Turkish donkey). The Otter replaced a U-6A Beaver. Initially the Otter was painted in standard Army olive drab and carried the logo “Esek Airlines - Stumblin' Stud” on the engine cowling. Later the Otter was painted in the red/white colour scheme. 53321 took the honour of being the very last active US Army Otter in Europe. The remaining Army Otters, which were all based in Germany, eight of them, were withdrawn from service during 1971 and sold on the civilian market in December 1971. They had all been flown back to Canada during January/March 1972, leaving 53321 still serving in Turkey until May 1972. It passed through Athens Airport, Greece on 7th June 1972 on its ferry flight from Sinop to the Depot at Coleman Barracks, Mannheim, Germany where it was put into storage. It remained on Army charge until December 1972 and was then offered for sale. For a long time, it sat forlornly at Coleman Barracks, parked in the long grass, surrounded by no less than 86 U-6A Beavers which were also awaiting disposal. The Otter was still in the red/white colour scheme and had been 'zapped' with a small TWA Airlines sticker on the tail.

The Otter was sold during 1973 to brokers Joseph V.Massin of Rodenkirchen, Germany and registered to them as N93441. By 15th January 1974 the aircraft was parked at Maastricht airfield in Holland and by 6th May '74 was at Bonn-Hangelar airfield, Cologne, Germany. Massin Aircraft had also purchased eight Otters from the Ghana Air Force, and these eight Otters as well as N93441 were sold to Air Craftsmen Ltd of St.John, New Brunswick, a company which traded in Otters. On 21st May '74 marks C-GLCV were provisionally allocated to the Otter and a ferry permit issued for a flight from Cologne to St.John, New Brunswick. On 17th June '74 C-GLCV flew from Bonn-Hangelar to Biggin Hill airfield, near London. Also arriving at Biggin Hill that day were two of the former Ghana Air Force Otters C-GLCO (420) and C-GLCT 9430), which had flown up from Africa via Gibraltar and Marseille. All three Otters were fitted with ferry tanks for the transatlantic crossing and departed together from Biggin Hill for Prestwick, Scotland on 21st June '74. All three set off for Reyjkavik, Iceland the following day and successfully completed the transatlantic flight to St.John.

C-GLCV underwent a major inspection and conversion to civilian configuration at St.John and flew to Oshawa, Ontario during August 1974 for further work, returning to St.John. On completion of the work, it made a test flight on 12th January '75 and was registered to Air Craftsmen Ltd on 27th January '75. Its total time at that stage was 4,691 hours. The Otter was sold on 5th February '75 to Les Fonds Nordic Ltd of Sept Iles, Quebec, a leasing company, and leased by them to Air Gava Ltee, based at Schefferville, Quebec, to whom it was registered on 27th March '75. For nearly a year, LCV served the bush country of northern Quebec, until it met with an accident on 3rd February 1976. The Otter was flying from Payne Bay to Fort Chimo. Twenty minutes after departure, the weather deteriorated rapidly. The pilot did not turn back, hoping to find better conditions ahead. He continued at 11,000 feet in cloud for several hours. With darkness approaching, he descended until he had visual contact and made an approach to land, through blowing snow and in twilight, on the rough sea ice of Ungava Bay, twenty miles south of Koartac. The whiteout conditions made it impossible to judge altitude and the Otter landed heavily on the rough surface, being substantially damaged in the process. The two on board were rescued two days later by a Survair DC-3.

Temporary repairs were made on site, and a ferry permit issued for a flight on 24th February to St.Jean airfield, Montreal where St.Louis Aviation repaired the Otter, which had suffered damage to the main gear, propeller and engine mount. The Otter was soon back in action, but only a few days later, on 12th March 1976, it was destroyed by a fire at Sept Iles, Quebec on its way back from Montreal to Schefferville. At 0515 hours that morning, the pilot was preparing the Otter for departure from Sept Iles airport. An electrical fire originated in the baggage compartment, where there was a ten gallon fuel drum and a tarpaulin. The smoke was noticed some minutes after the main switch had been selected on and while the pilot was turning the propeller by hand. Unfortunately the fire took hold, and there were no emergency services on duty at the airport at that early hour of the morning. Sadly, Otter C-GLCV was totally consumed by the fire.

- by Karl E. Hayes

"Tough" environments for the "old girl" from "Day 1", unfortunately which she "didn't survive"..........


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