Otter 116 was delivered to the United States Army on 15th May 1956 with serial 55-3270 (tail number 53270). It was allocated to the 14th Army Aviation Company, Fort Riley, Kansas. The aircraft's Historical Record Card shows it taken on the Company's books with three hours on the airframe, flight testing at Downsview prior to delivery. It was flown to Fort Riley and served there until 15th August '56 when the Company was re-designated the 1st Aviation Company and moved to Fort Benning, Georgia.
While based at Fort Benning the record card shows that 53270 had work done to it at various Army depots. On 7th January 1957 and again on 15th December 1958 it was at the Forest Park depot, Atlanta, Georgia for modification work on the flaps. On 7th August 1959 it was at the Lexington Signal Depot, Lexington, Kentucky for installation of a UHF radio. The 1st Aviation Company flew the Otter until 1961, when it converted to the Caribou, relinquishing its Otters to other units. 53270 continued to fly for the Company until 2nd August 1961, when it arrived at Fort Rucker, Alabama and was taken on charge by the US Army Aviation Center. Its total airframe time at that
stage was 2,264 hours.
The Otter was used initially by the Army Aviation School at Fort Rucker for flying training. This continued until February 1966, when it was designated for “technical operations and maintenance training”. In August 1967 it became a “Category A Maintenance Trainer”, in use as a ground instructional airframe. On 11th December '67 it was declared a “Category B” non-flying aircraft and continued in use as a training aid. Its total airframe time by that stage had risen to 3,072 hours. On 23rd July 1968 it was received by the US Army Transportation School's Aviation Maintenance Division at Fort Eustis, Virginia where it was used to train student maintenance mechanics.
The Otter remained in use with the School until March 1973 and the following month became part of the Army Transportation Museum's collection, which is also located at Fort Eustis. It remains to this day on display as a museum exhibit at Fort Eustis, displayed alongside U-6A Beaver 81997, Caribou 73079, a Bird Dog, a U-8D Seminole and a collection of helicopters.
Full history courtesy of Karl E. Hayes © from DHC-3 Otter: A History (2005).