|Otter number 11 was delivered to the RCAF with serial 3665 on 1st April 1953. Prior to departure from Downsview, it had carried an AB code for DHC publicity photographs, as had Otters 3661, '662, '663, '664 and '666. Its first posting was to 408 Squadron, Rockcliffe where the unit history records its early days occupied with local area flights, pilot training, cross countries and water training at Golden Lake. In June '53 3665 flew north and spent that summer based out of Goose Bay, Labrador and Knob Lake, Schefferville, Quebec, supporting the squadron's mapping and surveying tasks. In August '53 the Otter was assigned to duties with the Central Experimental & Proving Establishment (CEPE) at Rockcliffe and then in September '53 at Namao, Alberta before joining 105 Communications & Rescue Flight at the Namao base in November 1953, where it received its 'Rescue' markings.
3665 was to serve the Flight for nearly three years, serving initially alongside the Flight's other Otter, 3669, three C-47 Dakotas and three Beech Expeditors. The unit was one of the most active rescue units in the RCAF, with responsibility for large tracts of Northern Canada, including Alberta, northern BC, the Northwest Territories and the Yukon. As well as rescue work, the Otters were also used on transport tasks, including very extensive inspection tours of northern bases and facilities, for which 3665 was much used. One minor “C” category incident is recorded during its service with the Flight. On 4th April 1954, with five souls on board, while landing on a snow-covered, unmarked area in the course of a navigation training cross-country flight, the main skis touched just a moment before the tail ski, and some damage occurred in the area of the tailwheel bulkhead. The damage was repaired.
On 1st April 1955 the unit history records 3665 positioning from its Namao base to Fort Smith, NWT to commence an inspection tour of the Northwest Territories, extending as far north as the Beaufort Sea. Over the following three weeks it routed Fort Smith-Yellowknife-Parry Point-Shingle- Parry-Aklavik-Shingle-Tuktoyaktuk-Parry-Pearce-Nick Penn-Parry-Clinton-Cat Train-Horton River-
Parry-Norman Wells-Yellowknife-Fort Smith-Namao, where it arrived back on 20th April. This Otter was certainly getting to see the very remote parts of its native land, in the true traditions of a bush aircraft.
On 13th and 14th December '55 105 Communications & Rescue Flight's two Otters 3665 and 3669 as well as Dakotas FZ695 and KJ956 and Expeditors 114, 948, 1506 and 1561, were involved in an extensive search in northern Alberta for a Fairchild aircraft en route from Peace River to Namur Lake. The Fairchild was eventually found, down on a lake, out of gas. 3665 continued to serve with the Flight until September 1956 when it went to DHC at Downsview for incorporation of All Up Weight modifications and it then continued eastwards to its next posting, with 103 Rescue Unit at Greenwood, Nova Scotia, which it joined in November 1956 and where it was to serve for the next five years. It was a very active member of this busy Rescue unit and features many and often in the unit's history, of which the following are but a few examples.
On 23rd and 24th March '57 it was involved in the search for a Royal Canadian Navy Grumman Avenger, missing in the sea off Shearwater. That same month, on 5th March, Aero Commander 520 EP-AEA had gone missing on its delivery flight from Idlewild, New York to Iran, routing first to Goose Bay but diverting to Sept Iles, Quebec due to the weather at Goose. The search for the missing aircraft was to go on for months, based out of Matane, Quebec on the southern shore of the St.Lawrence River. Initially USAF SA-16s and SC-54s flying from Goose and Stephenville were involved, as well as RCAF Cansos and Lancasters, but nothing was found. On 17th May '57 this search was still going on and 3665 flew to Sept Iles to join the search, code named “SAR Lorenz”, after the name of the pilot of the missing aircraft. The unit's other Otter 3673 was also involved, and both Otters flew from Matane on the search. Otter 3665 went u/s at Matane, C-47 serial FZ694 flying in with personnel and spare parts to fix the aircraft. Unfortunately the Dak went u/s as well, the unit's Canso 9830 having to be dispatched with more repair resources. By 31st May all the unit's aircraft had completed their involvement with the search and returned to base. The search itself was suspended on 17th July '57, with nothing ever found.
On 12th November 1958 3665 is recorded operating a medical evacuation flight from Grand Manan Island to St.John, New Brunswick with the unit's Canso 11084 flying escort for the Otter over the Bay of Fundy. 3665 continued to serve with 103 Rescue Unit at Greenwood until February 1962 when it was retired from service and entrusted to No.6 Repair Depot, Trenton for storage as a reserve aircraft. It remained in storage for a year, until transported to DHC at Downsview in March 1963. It was one of five Otters, all of which had been in storage with 6RD, which were donated by the Canadian Government to the Government of India, to whom the Otter was formally transferred on 24th April 1963.
The five Otters were shipped to India, where 3665 took Indian Air Force serial BM-1003. For the next 27 years it was to serve in India. It was one of 36 Otters to serve with the Indian Air Force, and it survived its tour of duty. Nothing is known of its Indian Air Force service, other than it was with 41 Squadron based at Palam Air Base, New Delhi between 1976 and 1980. It was one of “8 Otters on the ground since 1990 and 5 Otter airframes without engines” advertised for sale in April 1993 by the Indian Ministry of Defence. The successful purchasers were La Ronge Aviation/Mike Hackman Aircraft Sales. The Otters were located at various bases, BM-1003 being one of three at Kanpur. At the time of sale, it had 5,882 hours on the airframe. These three, and a further five located at Barrackpore, were paint stripped, dismantled and shipped from Calcutta, arriving at Saskatoon, Saskatchewan by 30th April 1994. They were then advertised for sale.
The purchaser of Otter number 11 was Kenmore Air Harbor Inc of Seattle. The Otter was trucked from Saskatoon to the company's base at Kenmore, on the northern end of Lake Washington and was registered to its new owners in May 1995 as N8262V. It was one of three former Indian Air Force Otters acquired by Kenmore, the others being 37 and 221. These three Otters were rebuilt by Kenmore Air and during the re-building converted to turbine power with the installation of PT-6 engines. Thus completed, Otter number 11 was re-registered N87KA on 23rd July 1996, and painted in Kenmore's smart yellow and white trim, joined the company's expanding fleet of turbine Otters, used on scheduled and charter services in the Puget Sound area and also the Inside Passage, the waterway which divides the Canadian mainland from Vancouver Island. Kenmore brought new and hitherto unheard of levels of sophistication to passenger flying in the Otter, establishing a network of scheduled services between the main points in its area of operation, as well as charters. The company even has a frequent flyer programme, probably the only one in the world where passengers can accrue points on the Otter. For the winter of 2000/01 N87KA, together with N50KA (221) went on charter to Island Seaplanes of Nassau in the Bahamas, before resuming its commuter services from Kenmore.
In 2003 Kenmore Air introduced a Cessna 208 Caravan amphibian into the fleet, joining its Beavers and turbine Otters. The Caravan was used to introduce landplane service to Bayview and Port Angeles. The following year, in March 2004, two of the turbine Otters were advertised for sale, one of which was N87KA. The Otter however continued in service with Kenmore Air pending a sale.
History courtesy of Karl E. Hayes from DHC-3 Otter: A History (2005).