Tuesday, December 09, 2008


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

South America, Antarctica, a "jump-plane", to Alberta, then British Columbia, up to the Yukon, “El Caballero Rojo” had "one helluva' history"!

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

De Havilland Canada


Otter 447

Otter 447 was delivered to the Argentine Air Force, the Fuerza Aerea Argentina, on 10th February 1965, with serial P-11. It was one of two Otters delivered that day, the other being number 448, serial P-12. Both were acquired for survey work and were equipped with aerial cameras. Whereas the basic price of an Otter at that time was $96,000, with their additional cameras and equipment, each of the Argentine aircraft cost $170,000. They were painted in a red overall colour scheme, with day-glo paint on the front of the engine cowling, the tail and wing tips. They certainly stood out on the snowy ramp at Downsview, which was of course the intention behind the high visibility colour scheme. They departed together for the long delivery flight south to Argentina, a flight of 7,850 miles.

The two Otters were assigned to the 1 Brigada Aerea, based at El Palomar. The aircraft and crews spent most of 1965 training and testing equipment in preparation for their Antarctic mission. This training was carried out on the Upsala Glacier in the Province of Santa Cruz on the mainland, an area similar to the Antarctic in terms of climate and topography. In November 1965 both Otters deployed to the Benjamin Matienzo Air Base, Antarctica where they joined the Grupo Aereo Antarctico 1. The Otters flew in a utility role, transporting personnel and cargo, including air-dropping supplies. P-12 had additional fuel tanks installed, which increased its endurance to thirteen hours. Unfortunately this aircraft was only in service a few months when it suffered an accident at the Benjamin Matienzo Air Base in early 1966 and was shipped back to El Palomar where all useable parts were salvaged and the remains broken up.

P-11 continued to give sterling service, and was very active in November 1966 on photographic sorties during a solar eclipse. In October 1967 the Otter returned to the mainland and participated in exercises in the Provinces of Chaco and Formosa in the north eastern part of the country, with 1 Brigada Aerea. It also conducted further exercises in the Upsala Glacier area in May 1968. It again returned to the Antarctic for the 1968/69 season. P-11 was declared surplus to requirements in July1971, having been replaced by the DHC-6 Twin Otter. Its camera equipment was removed and on 25th August 1972 the Otter was donated to the Fuerza Aerea Paraguaya (FAP), the Paraguayan Air Force, with which it adopted serial T-05. It was reportedly intended for use by the President of Paraguay for fishing trips, but in any event was attached to the “Transport and Training Air Group” (Grupo Aereo de Entrenamiento y Transporte/GAET) of the FAP, used for general transport tasks within Paraguay. It still retained the overall red/day-glo colour scheme in which it had been delivered, and was known in Paraguay as “El Caballero Rojo" (“The Red Gentleman”).

By the late 1970s, the cabin seats had been removed and it was in use for parachuting. In 1980, the aircraft was re-serialled 0209, when all FAP aircraft received four digit serials. In 1981, on take off from Nu-Guazu Air Force Base near Asuncion on a parachute sortie, it crashed. Although the cockpit section was badly damaged, the pilot and passengers survived. The damaged aircraft had the wings removed and was stored in a hangar at Nu-Guazu Air Base. There the Otter lay until 1991 when it was sold by auction to a local businessman for scrap. However, he must have retained it in one piece, as the Otter was later purchased by Mr Randy D'Aoust/Quality Aircraft Sales of St.Albert, near Edmonton, Alberta where it arrived in a crate early in 1997. The Otter was sold on to Vazar Aerospace, promoters of the Vazar Turbo Otter and Otter 447 arrived at the Aeroflite Industries facility at the Vancouver International Airport in July 1997, having been trucked there from Edmonton. The damage to the airframe was repaired.

In the event, the Otter was not rebuilt at that time, but was transported to Mr. Dara Wilder's farm at Aldergrove, BC (he is the principal of Vazar Aerospace) where it was stored. In November 2002 it was trucked to the facilities of Volant Technica at Portland, Oregon for engineering work on a new window configuration for the DHC-3. It was then returned to storage in the Vancouver area, awaiting rebuild. It was advertised for sale in October 2004 as a rebuild project. The advertisement noted that the aircraft had been stored since 1981 and had never been on floats. It went on: “We will build to your specification and have ready Spring 2005. Tell us what mods/engine/configuration you want and we will quote. Your choice of engine - Pratt, Garrett, Walter”. The Otter was advertised as having 5,900 hours on the airframe and after rebuild would be delivered with the 9,000 pound high gross weight kit installed, as well as BARON STOL kit, on wheels or floats. Other modification options included a 16 seat interior and window modification kit. After more than 20 years on the ground, Otter 447 was near to resuming its flying career.


Otter 447

January 1st, 2008. C-FDJD. Otter 447 was originally delivered to the Argentine Air Force in February 1965 for operation in the Antarctic and it served with the Fuerza Aerea Argentina with serial P-11 until August 1972 when it was donated to the Paraguayan Air Force, serial T-05. It was named “El Caballero Rojo” (The Red Gentleman) as it retained the all-red colour scheme from its days in the Antarctic. It was re-serialled 0209 and used for parachute work until an accident at Asuncion in 1981, after which it languished in a damaged state in a hangar at Nu-Guazu Air Base for many years. In 1991 it was sold for scrap but by good fortune it was purchased by Mr Randy D’Aoust/Quality Aircraft Sales of Edmonton, Alberta where it arrived in a crate early in 1997. It was sold to Vazar Aerospace and used for tests on a new window configuration before being sold to Recon Air of Geraldton, Ontario in February 2005 as C-FDJD, the first time this Otter had carried a Canadian registration. It was advertised for sale as a rebuilt Otter with low airframe time of only 5,900 hours, stored since 1981, with whatever engine the buyer specified.

The Otter was sold to 39649 Yukon Inc of Whitehorse, Yukon to whom it was registered C-GZCW on 18th January 2007. It was for operation by Black Sheep Aviation & Cattle Company, based at Whitehorse, who also operated Otter C-GMCW (108), a Texas Turbine conversion. Otter 447 C-GZCW was also converted as a Texas Turbine at Geraldton and in March 2007 was delivered to Whitehorse and entered service with Black Sheep Aviation & Cattle Company.

Tragically its career was very short, as it crashed and burned at Mayo Airport in the Yukon on 2nd June 2007, killing the pilot, the only occupant. It had only flown 240 hours since rebuild. At the time of writing the accident report has not been published but it appears that the Otter had just taken off from Mayo with a load of timber when it made an emergency return to the airfield and crashed on landing.

- by Karl E. Hayes

"Tragic". A new "lease on life", but she "expires" prematurely, along with her "valiant" pilot.


Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home