Monday, November 16, 2009


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

Talk about an aircraft with "extreme" history! Greenland and Panama, then to Arizona, then two "tours of duty" in Vietnam! Arriving back in good old North America, she dropped animal feed in the foothills of "The Rocks", went " Alaska"...., and finally made it to Saskatchewan, where she still "works" today!

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

De Havilland Canada


Otter 316

Otter 316 was delivered to the United States Army on 6th March 1959 with serial 58-1704 (tail number 81704). It was one of two Otters delivered that day, the other being 81703 (305). Both were painted in an overall orange colour scheme and were delivered from Downsview to Fort Eustis, Virginia where they joined the Transportation Research & Environmental Operations Group (TREOG), an Army unit whose task was to test Army equipment under extreme climate and environmental conditions. The two Otters were used in Greenland and in Panama. 81704's Army career was the same as 81703's, as already described, until April 1964 when it was assigned to Fort Huachuca, Arizona as a test support aircraft.

In February 1966 81704 arrived with the 54th Aviation Company in Vietnam, where it served until May 1968. It was taken on charge that month by the 388th Transportation Company, Vung Tau and shipped back to the United States, for depot level overhaul at the Sharpe Army Depot, Stockton, California where it arrived in September '68. After overhaul, in January 1970 it arrived back with the 54th Aviation Company in Vietnam. It is mentioned in the Company's history for January 1970 - “Traded in 53298 for 81704, an aircraft just back from overhaul in the States”. 81704 continued to fly for the 54th Aviation Company until August 1970, when it was taken on charge by the 56th Transportation Company and prepared for return home. It arrived back at the Sharpe Army Depot, Stockton, California in October 1970 and was put into storage there. It remained in store until February 1973 when it was deleted from the Army inventory and put up for disposal as military surplus.

81704 was one of four Otters in storage at Stockton purchased on 8th January 1974 by Laurentian Air Services Ltd of Ottawa, the four being 76108 (226), 81700 (314), 81704 (316) and 92210 (348), the purchase price for 81704 being $6,800. Of the four, Laurentian Air Services flew two of them (226 and 348) to their base at Ottawa, restored them to civilian configuration and put them into service. The other two (314 and 316) were not in flyable condition (as reflected by the purchase price of $6,800 for 316) and they were immediately sold on to Ag Air Company of Latah, Washington who collected the two Otters at Stockton and brought them by truck to their base at Latah.

Otter 314 was rebuilt by Ag Air Company, but 316 was sold on “as is” to a Mr Wayne H. Baer by Bill of Sale dated 10th February 1974 for $13,650, so at least Ag Air realised a quick profit. Later that month, Mr Baer sold the aircraft to Bill Kornell, trading as Acme Air Taxi of Salmon, Idaho, in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Mr Kornell applied for a civil registration for the Otter on 21st February 1974 and was allocated N521BK (the 'BK' no doubt standing for Bill Kornell) by the FAA. He then set about rebuilding the aircraft, which took three months, and on 30th May '74 he applied for a Certificate of Airworthiness. The Otter at that stage of its career had 3,500 hours total time.

On 31st May '74 the FAA issued a C. of A. but as an “Experimental Aircraft with Operating Limitations”. This it appears was because the Otter was to be used for dropping feed to animals, with the fuselage cargo doors removed. Limitations specified by the C. of A. precluded operations over congested areas, except take-offs from the Boise Municipal Airport and Nampa Airport, both in Idaho. After a year and a half of operating the Otter, Mr Kornell sold it by Bill of Sale dated 10th August 1975 to West Aircraft Sales of Municipal Airport, Salinas, California who sold it on the same day to Henry L. Liners of Fairbanks, Alaska. N521BK was registered to Mr Liners but was operated by Frontier Flying Service Inc, based at Fairbanks. At the time, the company also operated Otter N90575 (302), which crashed shortly thereafter.

Frontier Flying Service continued to operate the Otter until an accident on 16th January 1977, when N521BK was taking off from New Minto, Alaska on a cargo flight to Fairbanks, with two on board. The engine lost power and the Otter made a forced landing off airport in rough terrain and was substantially damaged. It was trucked south to be repaired by Sorm Industries at Boeing Field, Seattle. It underwent major structural repairs to the fuselage, bulkhead and right wing. The repairs were completed by August 1977. The following month, the Otter was sold to Mike Ehredt, trading as Arctic Guide of Barrow, Alaska and he applied for registration on 15th September 1977. Arctic Guide's fleet included a Twin Otter, Beech C-45, Dornier Do-28, two Turbo Porters and several Cessnas. The Otter flew for Arctic Guide out of Barrow until sold to Gittins Construction Inc of Anchorage, by Bill of Sale dated 27th December 1983. This company installed a Sorm Industries bulk fuel carrying tank, and it was used to haul fuel to construction sites around Alaska. It continued in use by Gittins Construction until sold to Yute Air Alaska of Dillingham, Alaska by Bill of Sale dated 18th December 1985.

Yute Air Alaska removed the bulk fuel tank and converted the Otter back to a passenger aircraft, and used it as part of their commuter fleet. They had previously flown Otter N433GR (291). The Otter continued to fly for Yute Air Alaska out of Dillingham until sold to Athabaska Airways Ltd of La Ronge, Saskatchewan in April 1994, to whom it was registered C-FSGD. The Otter flew as a piston until it was converted to a Vazar turbine Otter in 1997 and joined Athabaska Airways other turbine Otter C-FHPE (273) in service out of their La Ronge base. When Athabaska Airways merged with La Ronge Aviation Services to form Transwest Air, with effect from 1st September 2000, both Otters joined the Transwest Air fleet, although they remained based at La Ronge.

An incident involving C-FSGD was recorded on 26th April 2001. The turbo Otter on amphibious floats was en route from Fond du Lac to Stony Rapids when the fuel pressure dropped and the engine lost power. The pilot completed a forced landing on a river five miles west of Stony Rapids. The fuel gauge indicated 50 gallons of fuel on board. The aircraft was examined and departed again en route to Stony Rapids. On final approach at Stony Rapids, the engine lost power again. The pilot completed a landing at the airport and the Otter was towed off the runway. Examination revealed a problem with the fuel transmitter, which was dealt with, and SGD returned to service. It was registered to Transwest Air Ltd Partnership, Prince Albert, Saskatchewan on 13th November 2001, but remained based at La Ronge.


Otter 316

January 1st, 2008. C-FSGD. Transwest Air, La Ronge, Saskatchewan. Vazar.

- by Karl E. Hayes

316 N521BK at San Jose, California September 1984 (John Wegg)

316 C-FSGD of Transwest Air, La Ronge, Saskatchewan May 2002 (Anthony J. Hickey)

One "extreme machine"!!!


CF-SGD crashed on August 22, 2013 killing the pilot and lone occupant on board. RCMP divers recovered the body from the wreckage on Thursday,August 30th atr the site, 13 km SE of Ivanhoe lake,NT. Pilot has yet to be identified.
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