DHC-3 Otter Archive Master Index

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c/n 130

55-3281 on manœuvres.
Photo: DHC © Date unknown (DHC ref:4921) - Dennis Newell Collection
CF-KOA at Lauzon Lake, Ontario. By two photographers, two lenses!
Photo: Sheldon D. Benner © August 1976 - Michael J. Ody Collection
Photo: Peter Keating © August 1976 - Karl E. Hayes Collection
CF-KOA of Lauzon Aviation, at Calgary - CYYC, Alberta.
Photo: Anthony J. Hickey © March 1979 - Karl E. Hayes Collection
CF-KOA at Selkirk, Manitoba.
Photo: John Kimberley © April 1993 - Karl E. Hayes Collection
C-FKOA at Victoria Harbour, British Columbia.
Photos: Neil Aird © 30 October 1997
C-FKOA at Selkirk, Manitoba.
Photo: Neil Aird © 15 September 2003
C-FKOA at Wood Lake, British Columbia.
Photo: John W. Olafson © June 2004
C-FKOA now under turbine power, at Selkirk - CKL2, Manitoba.
Photo: John W. Olafson © 27 April 2014
C-FKOA with boat load at Great Bear Lake.
Photo: Daniel Acton © 2017
C-FKOA departs Great Bear Lake.
Photo: Daniel Acton © August 2018

c/n 130

55-3281 • N88753 • CF-KOA



• 55-3281 United States Army on 20th June 1956.

Assigned to 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 Jul-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

Jan-1962. At Coleman Barracks Depot, Mannheim, Germany.

May-1962 Allocated to Southern European Task Force (SETAF) Vicenza, Italy, where it served until September 1963.

Note: History between 1983 and Jul 1968

To Sharpe Army Depot, Stockton, CA in July 1968 for overhaul.

Mar-1970. 388th Transportation Company, Vung Tau, Vietnam.

Aug-1970 18th Aviation Company and based at Qui Nhon, Vietnam. Stood down in January 1971.

Jan-1971 79th Transportation Company at Qui Nhon and was shipped back to the United States.

May 1971 Army Red River Depot Texarkana, TX., and put into storage and deleted from the Army inventory in May-1971. Put up for sale as “salvage”

• Un regd J. W. Duff Aircraft Company, Denver, CO.  (Purchased 15-May-1973 for $31,800.)

• N88753 Seneca Aviation Inc., Mena, AR. Purchased 27-Feb-1973. Regd 01-Mar-1973. Rebuilt and put into civilian configuration. Canx 26th October '73

Airworthiness date: 21-May-1973.

Total time: 3,553hrs at May-1973.

• CF-KOA Lauzon Aviation Company Ltd., Algoma Mills, ON, Regd circa Oct-1973.

• CF-KOA Parsons Airways Northern Ltd., Flin Flon, MB. Regd circa Mar-1979.. Canx 07-Mar-1988.

• CF-KOA Sioux Narrows Airways Ltd., Winnipeg, MB. Based Yellowknife, NT. Regd 28-Feb-1990. Canx 24-Jun-2011.

Power plant: Changed to: Polish PZL 1000.

Incident: Thirty miles north of Thompson, MB 18-Jun-2001. Aircraft was in the cruise when the pilot noticed the carburettor temperature indicator was above the normal range. He elected to return to Thompson and landed without incident. a cracked weld was found in the exhaust system near the engine air intake

Incident: Forty eight miles west of Fort Resolution, NT, 27-Jun-2001. during a float take-off on a small lake, the engine failed. The pilot was able to land back on the lake without damage to the aircraft and relay his situation to Fort Smith through a passing airliner. Again the Otter was repaired and resumed service.

• CF-KOA Blue Water Aviation Services Ltd., Pine Falls, MB. Based Silver Falls, MB. Regd 24-Jun-2011. Canx 08-Jan-2015. regd 21-Mar-2016.

Note: Converted to Texas Turbine power engine, date currently unknown.

• C-FKOA Plummer’s Lodge titles.



Otter 130 was delivered to the United States Army on 20 June 1956 with serial 55-3281 (tail number 53281) and was assigned to the 2nd Aviation Company, Fort Riley, Kansas which later deployed to Germany and then France. By January 1962 the Otter was in the depot at Coleman Barracks, Mannheim, Germany as a maintenance float and in May 1962 was allocated to the Southern European Task Force (SETAF) in Italy, where it served until September 1963. Its next posting was to the 24th Aviation Battalion at Gablingen Army Airfield, Augsburg, Germany. It then arrived at the Sharpe Army Depot, Stockton, California in July 1968 for overhaul. It was transported from there to Vietnam where it was received in March 1970 by the 388th Transportation Company at Vung Tau.

It was allocated in August 1970 to the 18th Aviation Company and based at Qui Nhon but its service with the unit was relatively brief as it stood down in January 1971. The Otter was then placed with the 79th Transportation Company at Qui Nhon and was shipped back to the United States, arriving at the Army’s Red River Depot in Texas in May 1971 where it was put into storage. It was deleted from the inventory in May 1972 and put up for disposal as military surplus as “salvage”, apparently not being in the best of shape after its  time in Vietnam. It was Item 42 in sale number 46-3062, which opened 11 January 1973. Also sold in the same sale as Item 43 was Otter 81687 (295).

The Otter was sold at the auction on 15 February 1973 to J.W. Duff Aircraft Company of Denver, Colorado for $31,800. Duff Aircraft, based at Denver’s Stapleton Airport, were a company which specialised in dealing in military surplus aircraft and spare parts. Very rapidly they sold on the Otter, on 27 February 1973 to Seneca Aviation Inc., of Mena, Arkansas, to where the aircraft was trucked, and they proceeded to return the Otter to flying condition. It was registered to Seneca Aviation Inc on 1 March 1973 as N88753 and performed a test flight at Mena on 12 April 1973 after rebuild and conversion to civilian configuration. The Certificate of Airworthiness was issued to Seneca Aviation Inc on 21 May 1973, at which stage the Otter had a total time of 3,553 hours on the airframe.

The Otter was put up for sale and the American registration was cancelled on 26 October 1973 on the sale of the aircraft to Lauzon Aviation Company Ltd., of Algoma Mills, Ontario to whom it was registered as CF-KOA. It was painted into the company’s white and orange colour scheme, with titles on the fuselage. After five years service with this Ontario bush operator KOA arrived in Calgary, Alberta on 4 March 1979. The Lauzon Aviation titles were removed that week and the aircraft prepared by Field Aviation for its next operator, which was Parsons Airways Northern Ltd., of Flin Flon, Manitoba. It served with them for the next eleven years, serving the bush country of Manitoba and northern Saskatchewan, one of nine Otters flown by Parsons over the years.

While operated by Parsons KOA had a heavy landing sometime in late June 1989. This resulted in structural damage to the rear fuselage and extensive corrosion on the fuselage floor, seat rails and attachment structure was also found. KOA however continued in operation until flown to Regina, Saskatchewan on 24 August 1989 for repairs. It returned to Flin Flon on 8 September 1989 and resumed operations. It was inspected by a government official on 13 September, who determined that the corroded floor/seat attachment rails had not been replaced as required. Parsons Airways Northern were fined $500 for this breach of regulations. The Otter was in store over the winter of 1989 / 1990 until sold to Sioux Narrows Airways Ltd., to whom it was registered on 28 February 1990.

Sioux Narrows Airways was owned by Warren Plummer. In 1938 he had travelled by canoe from Yellowknife on Great Slave Lake to Talthelei Narrows at the northeast end of the Lake. Here he established Great Slave Lake Lodge in 1949. He started flying fishermen in a Stinson Reliant from Sioux Narrows, Ontario, which became his home and Sioux Narrows Airways was born. Plummers Great Bear Lake Lodge followed in 1959 and the Tree River Char Camp was established in 1960. Over the years Sioux Narrows Airways operated Norseman, Goose, Barkley Grow and Beaver aircraft to fly guests for fishing to these lodges, and then acquired the Otter. The fishing season runs from May to September each year, guests typically arriving by scheduled airline flights into Yellowknife, when the Plummers Lodge fleet takes over for transport within the Northwest Territories.

Otter KOA was converted for its new owners during 1992 by Airtech at Peterborough, Ontario with the Polish PZL 1000 engine and joined another PZL-powered Otter C-GSMG (363) which also flew for Sioux Narrows Airways. KOA was still at that stage painted in the basic Lauzon Aviation scheme of its previous owner, but was later painted into Sioux Narrows Airways own red and white scheme with Plummers Arctic lodges titles, as was Otter SMG. The company’s long-serving DC-3 C-FQHY connected the Great Slave, Great Bear, Trophy and Tree River camps and tied in to Yellowknife, carrying not only the lodge guests but fuel and supplies as well. The two Otters were then used to take guests, eight at a time, from the lodges on special fly-outs to choice fishing spots. A Beaver and a Cessna 206 catered to smaller groups. At season’s end the fleet flew south to Selkirk, Manitoba for winter maintenance and storage.

In the course of its flying for Sioux Narrows Airways / Plummers Arctic Lodges KOA recorded a few incidents reported on CADORS. On 27 June 1995 KOA broadcast on the radio that it had landed on a lake eighty miles south of Stony Rapids, as a precaution due to fuel shortage. The pilot and his eight passengers waited for a delivery of fuel. Their plight was overheard by Piper Navajo C-GUNP of Northern Dene Air, who arranged for a fuel delivery. Two incidents were recorded during June 2001. On 18 June KOA was in the cruise thirty miles north of Thompson, Manitoba when the pilot noticed the carburettor temperature indicator was above the normal range. He elected to return to Thompson and landed without incident. Maintenance found a cracked weld in the exhaust system near the engine air intake. A few days later, on 27 June, forty eight miles west of Fort Resolution, Northwest Territories, during the float take-off on a small lake, the engine failed. The pilot was able to land on the lake without damage to the Otter and relay his situation to Fort Smith through a passing airliner. On 6 July 2003 KOA on floats made a precautionary landing on Lake Winnipegosis, Manitoba due to deteriorating weather. During the landing one float struck a rock and punctured. The aircraft was in shallow water about 100 feet from the shore and the pilot flooded the other float to stabilise the aircraft. The remained on the lake overnight, was repaired the next morning and returned to base.

Over the winter of 2005 / 2006 both Otters KOA and SMG were converted to Texas Turbine configuration with the Garrett engine by Recon Air at Geraldton, Ontario, KOA being conversion # 26. Both Otters then re-entered service for Plummers Arctic Lodges as turbines and their increased abilities resulted in the retirement of Plummers long-serving DC-3 C-FQHY. The two Otters continued flying for Plummers in the years that followed, assisted by some Beavers, operated by Sioux Narrows Airways. A change occurred when on 24 June 2011 both Otters were registered to Blue Water Aviation Services Ltd., of Pine Falls, Manitoba although both continued to fly exclusively for Plummers Arctic Lodges. Blue Water Aviation took over the operation of the two Otters on behalf of Plummers Arctic Lodges.   

Each summer season the Otters deploy north to the Northwest Territories. They are often to be seen at Yellowknife, collecting passengers who have arrived there and transporting them to the lodges and back to Yellowknife when their time at the lodge is over. For the rest of the time the Otters bring guests between the lodges and on fly-out fishing trips. For summer 2013 Plummers were offering seven lodges throughout the Northwest Territories – Great Bear Lake, Great Slave Lake, Trophy Lodge, Tree River, Neiland Bay, Branson’s Outpost and Arctic Circle Lodge. At the end of the season the Otters return south for winter storage at Selkirk, Manitoba.

Another CADORS report is dated 8 August 2013 from Kugluktuk, Nunavut – “Reports received last two weeks by wildlife officers from local hunters that Otter C-FKOA has been flying well below one thousand feet, pretty close to the ground, disturbing caribou and other wildlife”.   

Full history up to 2005 courtesy of Karl E Hayes © from DHC-3 Otter - A History (CD-ROM 2005), now with added and updated information which Karl has supplied for the benefit of the website.