DHC-3 Otter Archive Master Index

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c/n 125

N5368G at Renton - KRNT, Washington.
Photo: Peter A. Kirkup / Aviation Archives © September 1977 - Karl E. Hayes Collection

c/n 125

55-3278 • N5368G

C-GBNA

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• 55-3278 United States Army. Delivered 23-May-1956. Designated as U-1A.

Assigned to the 2nd Aviation Company, Fort Riley, KS.

April/May 1957 to Brookley AFB, Mobile, AL., Here the aircraft were loaded on board the 'USS Tripoli', an aircraft carrier then serving with the Military Sea Transportation Service, which set sail for Bremerhaven, Germany arriving on 16-May-1967.

2nd Aviation Company based at Illesheim, Germany, until July 1959 when the unit moved to France.

The Company headquarters of the 2nd Aviation Company and one platoon were based at Orléans, a second platoon at Verdun and a third platoon at Poitiers. During its time in France the aircraft was either based at or visited all three locations for different levels of maintenance.

The aircraft was noted visiting Abbotsinch Airport, Scotland on 11th June 1966. This would have during the unit's annual deployment, based at Prestwick. This was in support of Corporal Missile Battalions, who fired live missiles from the Benbecula Range in the Hebrides.

Noted by the webmaster Neil Aird at Prestwick - EGPK 30-Jun-1966.

To the 56th Aviation Detachment, Mannheim, Germany between Mar-1967 and Oct-1967.

Transported to the United States and onwards to Vietnam, arriving with the 54th Aviation Company at Vin Tau in March 1968. Also named as 54th Utility Aircraft Company with the call sign “Big Daddy” which related to the tasks undertaken by the unit.

Emblem of the 54th Aviation Company, aka the Utility Aircraft Company

Later in 1968 and during 1969 it flew for the 45th Medical Detachment, then the 247th and then the 254th Medical Detachments in Vietnam. These units were mainly Huey helicopter equipped units.

It was then returned to the United States and arrived at the Red River Army Depot, TX  in July 1970, where it was overhauled.

In July 1971 it was allocated to the 19th Aviation Battalion, Fort Richardson, Anchorage, AK.

It was then flown to the 568th Transportation Company at Fort Wainright, Fairbanks, AK in 1973 who prepared it for its next posting.

October 1973 it was assigned to the Alaska Army National Guard, based at Bethel, AK., until Dec-1976 when the use of the Otter in Alaska was terminated.

• N5368G Transferred to the Civil Air Patrol. Initially for the Alaska Wing but was parked at Anchorage until while later moved  to Seattle, renovated, painted in CAP scheme and then served at the CAP Great Lakes Region Headquarters, based at Pontiac, MI.

• C-GBNA Buffalo Narrows Airways Ltd., Buffalo Narrows, SK. Regd 28-Mar-1980 Re regd 15-Jun-1998. 07-Jun-2002. Canx 07-Jun-2002.

• C-GBNA Voyage Air (634643 Alberta Ltd), Fort McMurray, SK. Based Buffalo Narrows, Regd 07-Jun-2002. 26-Jun-2006, 07-Mar-2007 and 18-Apr-2013.

Note Jan-2005 converted to Walter turbine power at the AOG facility at Kelowna, BC.

Current

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Otter 125 was delivered to the United States Army on 23rd May 1956 with serial 55-3278 (tail number 53278) and was assigned to the 2nd Aviation Company, Fort Riley, Kansas which later deployed to Germany and then France (as described in relation to Otter 124). 53278 continued to fly for the 2nd Aviation Company throughout the existence of that unit, until it was disbanded in March 1967. It was noted visiting Abbotsinch Airport, Scotland on 11th June 1966 during the unit's last Scottish deployment.

In March 1967 the Otter was transferred to the 56th Aviation Detachment, Mannheim, Germany until October 1967 and it was then transported to the United States and onwards to Vietnam, arriving with the 54th Aviation Company in March 1968. Later in 1968 and during 1969 it flew for the 45th Medical Detachment, then the 247th and then the 254th Medical Detachments in Vietnam. It was then returned to the United States and arrived at the Red River Army Depot, Texas in July 1970, where it was overhauled. In July 1971 it was allocated to the 19th Aviation Battalion Fort Richardson, Alaska. A crew from that unit flew Otter 81686 (293) from Fort Richardson to the Red River depot, picked up 53278 as a replacement, and flew it all the way back to Alaska.

The 19th Aviation Battalion was re-designated the 222nd Aviation Battalion in August 1972, and 53278 continued to serve the unit based at Fort Richardson until September 1973. It was then flown to the 568th Transportation Company at Fort Wainright, Fairbanks who prepared it for its next posting, and in October 1973 it was assigned to the Alaska Army National Guard, based at Bethel, Alaska. It continued flying from Bethel until December 1976, when the use of the Otter by the military in Alaska came to an end. After an interesting and varied military career, which encompassed service in the Continental United States, Europe, combat service in Vietnam and finally service in Alaska, 53278 was transferred to the Civil Air Patrol. Initially it was taken on charge by the Alaska Wing of the CAP and parked at Anchorage, before being ferried south to Seattle.  It was registered N5368G to the CAP in May 1977 and was noted at Renton Airfield, Seattle in September '77, still in its Army olive drab colours, being prepared for CAP service. It was repainted into the CAP's colour scheme and served with the Great Lakes Region Headquarters, based at Pontiac, Michigan.

The Otter continued to fly for the Civil Air Patrol until sold to Buffalo Narrows Airways Ltd of Buffalo Narrows, Saskatchewan. It arrived in Calgary, Alberta on 22nd February 1980 carrying marks C- GBNA as well as N5368G. It was officially registered as C-GBNA to Buffalo Narrows Airways on 28th March 1980 after overhaul at Calgary. It was to have many years of service with this company, flying mostly during the summer months with fishermen, hunters and tourists and in support of mining and exploration companies. The owner of Buffalo Narrows Airways was Denis 0'Brien. He purchased a second Otter N9895B (194) in 1996 from Taquan Air in Ketchikan, Alaska. It was registered to him, taking his initials, as C-GDOB but tragically crashed on its delivery flight from Ketchikan via Prince Rupert to Buffalo Narrows on 30th April 1996, killing Denis O'Brien who was piloting the aircraft. After his death, his widow took over running the company, which in July 1996 adopted the trading name of Courtesy Air, and following her death in a car accident, the company developed into a commuter type charter operation, with a fleet of Piper PA-31 Navajo Chieftains.

What had been the floatplane division of Buffalo Narrows Airways/Courtesy Air, was acquired by Barry O'Brien, brother of Denis O'Brien and re-named Voyage Air (634643 Alberta Ltd), with bases at Fort McMurray, Alberta and Buffalo Narrows, Saskatchewan, which are some 125 miles apart. Voyage Air continues to operate Otter C-GBNA as well as four Beavers and two Cessna 185s, continuing the type of floatplane operations which the floatplanes of Buffalo Narrows carried on. The Otter and two Beavers continued to be based at Buffalo Narrows, and the other two Beavers at Fort McMurray. In January 2005 C-GBNA arrived at the AOG facility at Kelowna, BC where work started to convert the aircraft as a Walter turbine Otter conversion.

Full history courtesy of Karl E. Hayes © from DHC-3 Otter: A History (2005).

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