DHC-3 Otter Archive Master Index

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c/n 142

PI-C54 awaiting attention.
Photo: Unknown photographer © Date unknown - Karl E. Hayes Collection
C-FXUY at the Tyee Spit, Campbell River.
Photo: Phil © July 1980 - Karl E. Hayes Collection
C-FXUY at Vancouver - CYVR.
Photo: Kenneth I. Swartz © 13 April 1990
More images at some point - I have 21 to choose from !!!

c/n 142

PI-C54 • CF-XUY • N214L

C-FXUY

X

• No regn A. Fecteau Transport Aérien of Québec. Jun-1956 but order cancelled.

• PI-C54 Philippine Air Lines, Manila, Philippine Islands. Delivered 24-Aug-1956.

• CF-XUY Thomas Lamb Airways, 02-Aug-1968.

• CF-XUY Omineca Air Services Ltd., Burns Lake, BC. Circa 1969.

• CF-XUY Trans Provincial Airlines, Terrace, BC. Circa 1970.

Accident: Cunningham Lake, BC. 14-Jun-1971. During take off run the aircraft was in collision with the water in adverse weather. Aircraft sustained substantial damage. The Otter was repaired and continued in service.

• CF-XUY Gulf Air Aviation Ltd., Campbell River, BC., on Vancouver Island in 1976.

• CF-XUY Air BC Ltd.

• CF-XUY Kingcome Aiircraft Equiptment, Campbell River, BC. Canx 26-Jul-1982.

• CF-XUY Powell Air Ltd., Powell River, BC. Regd-Jul-1982. Canx 26-Jul-1985.

• CF-XUY Gynn Bay Logging Ltd., trading as Western Straits Air, Campbell River, BC. Regd 10-Feb-1986.

• CF-XUY Central Mountain Air Ltd., Smithers, BC. 25-May-1990. Canx 25-Mar-1992

Power plant: Converted to a Vazar turbo Otter by Aeroflite Industries at their Vancouver International Airport hanger. Completed on 01- Aug-1990.

• CF-XUY to A.M.Luton, Calgary, AB., later in 28-May 1992. Canx 29-May-1992.

• N214L to North American Gold Centre Inc., Las Vegas, NV. Regd 18-Jun-1992. Canx 11-Mar-1993 on export to Canada.

• C-FXUY Air Tindi Ltd., Yellowknife, NT. Regd 16-Apr-1993.

• C-FXUY A.M. Luton, Calgary, AB Based Edmonton, AB. .Regd 23-Mar-1993. Canx 16-Apr-1993.

• C-FXUY Air Tindi Ltd., Yellowknife, NT. Regd 16-Apr-1993. Canx 31-Jan-1994. Re regd 16-Apr-1993. Canx 22-Sep-2005. Re regd 22-Sep-2005.

Incident: East Bay at Yellowknife 28th July 2000. When smoke and fire appeared in the cockpit, the take-off was rejected and the aircraft taxied back to the dock. A fire extinguisher was applied to the lower instrument panel and the fire put out. Maintenance found that a scat hose in the heater system had moved and contacted the “hot” bus side of a circuit breaker, resulting in a small fire which had burned the hose.

Accident: Yellowknife, NT. 25-Jun-2005. The aircraft operating as AT 301, was departing from the East Bay in Yellowknife, NT for a VFR flight to Blachford Lake, NT. During the takeoff run, the nose of the aircraft pitched up and the pilot was unable to correct the pitch attitude. AT 301 climbed to about 50 feet when the left wing dropped. The aircraft came to rest on its left side, having torn the left wing from the fuselage. The pilot and accompanying dock attendant were able to evacuate the aircraft from the right hand cockpit door and assisted 4 passengers out of the aircraft. Two passengers were able to escape through the ceiling escape hatch. A final passenger was assisted from the aircraft through the aft right hand escape door. The crew and passengers were recovered from the water by local boaters and the Canadian Coast Guard/RCMP.

• C-FXUY Air Tindi Ltd., Yellowknife, NT. Canx 11-Aug-2011.

Status unknown

Otter 142 was originally allocated for delivery to A. Fecteau Transport Aèrien and was painted in their colours by 21 June 1956. This order was cancelled and the Otter was re-allocated to Philippine Air Lines (PAL). It was repainted in PAL’s colour scheme and registered to PAL as PI-C54 and delivered on 24 August 1956. After test flying at Downsview it was packed into a crate and shipped to Manilla, where it was re-assembled and entered service with PAL, one of six Otters which they had ordered.

The Otters were used on a “rural air service” which connected 17 cities and towns with the trunkline airports. By 1958 the Otter fleet was carrying over 800 passengers per week. Scheduled services with the Otters continued until May 1964 at which stage PI-C54, along with PAL’s other surviving Otter PI-C53 (72), were used for charter work, until withdrawn from use at Manilla and put up for sale. The buyer of the two Otters was Thomas Lamb Airways of The Pas, Manitoba, later re-named Lambair. On 2 August 1968 both Otters were registered to Thomas Lamb Airways, PI-C53 as CF-XUX and PI-C54 as CF-XUY. Thomas Lamb himself and his son Greg went to Manilla to complete the purchase. Greg was all for flying them home but his father would not hear of it, so the two Otters travelled as deck cargo on a ship to Vancouver and by rail to Calgary where they were delivered to Field Aviation, who gave both aircraft a complete overhaul.

These two Otters had been purchased not for operation by Lambair but for sale on. Both Otters were sold to a Mr William Harrison, who was the owner of Omineca Air Service Ltd., based at Burns Lake in northern BC and who also owned BC-Yukon Air Services based at Watson Lake, just north of the BC border in the Yukon. Otter XUY was allocated to Omineca Air Service and XUX to BC-Yukon Air Services.  Otter XUY was first registered to William Harrison on 31 March 1969 and then re-registered to Omineca Air Service on 30 June 1969 and after overhaul at Calgary it arrived at Burns Lake, its new base, and entered service with Omineca Air Service.

With Omineca CF-XUY joined Otter CF-KLC (255), two Beavers and a Cessna 185. The company provided a general bush service, including support of mining operations, government agencies, fire fighting, flying fishermen and hunters and tourists to the Nahanni National Park. It served northern BC and the southern part of the Northwest Territories. In January 1970 Trans Provincial Air Carriers of Terrace, BC bought out Omineca Air Service, thus acquiring Otters XUY and KLC to add to their own Otters fleet. Otter XUY was painted into Trans Provincial’s all yellow colour scheme with blue trim, but continued to fly from Tyhee Lake, from where it had also flown when with Omineca Air service.

We are indebted to William Lopaschuk, a pilot with Trans Provincial, who in his book “They call me Lopey, a saga of wilderness flying”, describes some of the activities of Otter XUY, including an incident at Cunningham Lake, BC on 14 June 1971. The crash report summary is: “Take-off run; controlled collision with water; initiated flight in adverse weather; substantial damage” but Lopey has a much fuller description:  “I was trying to take off from Cunningham Lake, about 30 miles north of Burns Lake. I had just dropped off a couple of geologists and had two more to drop at a little lake ten miles to the west. Storm force winds were churning up huge waves, so I opted to use the protection of a small island for take-off. I opened the throttle and pulled back on the stick to raise the nose and put the aircraft into planing mode. I had travelled only 100 feet when a big gust of wind lifted the plane about 75 feet off the surface of the water. I was now in a stall condition; the right wing dropped and we hit the water hard on the right float, snapping all of the struts on that side of the plane. With no support, the right wing should have fallen into the water but I’d pushed hard on the right rudder on impact. The shore of the island was about seven feet high and only a few yards away. Just as we reached it, the wing collapsed onto a pinnacle of rock, which punched a hole in the aluminium and held us to the shore. This gave me the chance to jump out and tie the plane to a big tree stump”.

“I radioed the air base at Telkwa and an Otter was dispatched to rescue us. It was still much too rough for that plane to get close so the pilot put down across the lake at a fishing camp and enlisted the help of a guide to pick us up by boat. When the wind died down we flew the remaining two geologists to their drop off point. Now I had to rescue the plane. Company engineers and I brought in new struts and skin for the wing. Since the pinnacle of rock held the wing up, replacing the struts wasn’t too difficult. We just filled the right float with enough water to partially submerge it. This stretched things out enough to replace the struts without the aid of jacks and gin poles. Once the struts were in place we pumped the water out of the float, the plane rose and the wing lifted off the rock. We put a temporary patch over the hole in the wing and three days after my hard landing flew to terrace for proper repairs”.

Otter XUY continued in service with Trans Provincial until sold to Gulf Air Aviation Ltd., in 1976 and moved to its new base at Campbell River on Vancouver Island, where it entered service alongside C-GLCP (422). Although LCP was painted in Gulf Air’s green and white colour scheme, XUY still carried the all yellow scheme with blue trim from its days with Trans Provincial. It flew for Gulf Air for four years and was noted at Campbell River in July 1980, still in the yellow scheme. Gulf Air Aviation was one of the companies acquired by the Pattison Group and was merged with the other companies into Air BC, to which XUY was registered in December 1980. It was part of Air BC’s float-plane division and remained based at Campbell River, operating on charter work, much as it had before.

Whatever about the mainline Air BC, its float-plane division did not prove too successful and the Pattison Group soon began divesting itself of these aircraft. For a time during 1982 XUY was flown by Kingcome Air out of Campbell River but the registration of the Otter to this company was cancelled on 26 July 1982 on the sale of the aircraft to Powell Air Ltd., of Powell River, BC. XUY was painted into Powell Air’s white colour scheme with green cheatline and small company titles. Powell River is located some 50 miles north of Vancouver on the Pacific Coast but is accessible only by boat or seaplane. Powell Air had acquired the Otter (which was later joined by C-GLCS (428)) for scheduled services linking Powell River with Vancouver and so XUY, which was operated on floats, became a regular visitor to the Seaplane Base on the Fraser River, adjoining the Vancouver International Airport. XUY flew for Powell Air for three years, until cancelled on 26 July 1985 on sale to Western Straits Air. It was parked at Vancouver over the winter of 1985 / 1986.

Western Straits Air was the trading name of Gynn Bay Logging Ltd., based at Campbell River, to where XUY returned. This company served the logging industry along the Pacific Coast, as well as general charter work and XUY flew for Western Straits Air until Spring 1990 when it was replaced by turbine Otter C-FEBX (38). The registration of XUY to Western Straits Air was cancelled on 25 June 1990, on which day it was registered to Central Mountain Air, its new owner.

Even though XUY was only registered to Central Mountain Air on 25 June 1990, by 13 April 1990 it had already been painted into the company’s colour scheme at the Vancouver Airport, comprising a blue engine cowling, thin blue cheatline, blue rudder and wings. It was noted parked outside the Aeroflite Industries hangar at Vancouver in these colours on 13 April, on floats, without propeller, which was attached the following month. Central Mountain Air fuselage titles and tail logo were applied and XUY flew for Central Mountain Air as a piston Otter for the month of June 1990, until arriving back at Vancouver on 5 July 1990 for turbine conversion. This work was also carried out by Aeroflite Industries and it emerged from their hangar as a DHC-3T Vazar turbine Otter on 1 August 1991 before flying north to its base at Smithers, BC and re-entering service with Central Mountain Air. It had been painted into a new colour scheme of white overall, with a thin red cheatline, Central Mountain Air fuselage titles and tail logo.

Central Mountain Air also flew Otters C-GCMY (22) and C-FSVP (28), supporting mining operations in northern BC as well as the guide outfitting business and general charter work. XUY continued to fly for the company until its registration was cancelled on 25 March 1992. It was then registered as C-FXUY to a Mr A.M. Luton of Calgary on 28 May 1992 and cancelled the next day, 29 May 1992, on export of the aircraft to the United States and it was registered that day as N214L to North American Gold Centre Inc., of Las Vegas, Nevada.  Mr A.M. Luton had devised certain modifications to the Otter, for which he had obtained a Supplemental Type Certificate (STC). N214L was noted at Vancouver during May 1992, in basic Central Mountain Air colour scheme but without titles.

The reason for XUY’s registration to Mr Luton and the unusually named North American Gold Centre had to do with turbine Otter N58JH (131) which was owned and operated by Ketchikan Air Services of Ketchikan, Alaska. They had deployed N58JH to support a contract in the Antarctic, where it had been damaged in February 1992 in a very remote location out on the ice, where it had been abandoned for the Antarctic winter. As Larry West, who worked for Ketchikan Air Services, explains: “Our insurance company said they would not pay on the claim until they were able to have an adjuster examine the damage and determine if repairs could be made. Everyone we talked to with experience in the Antarctic said that we would be lucky to even find the airplane the next spring, let alone be able to repair it, so being desperate for an aircraft for the busy upcoming summer season of 1992 in Ketchikan, we sued our own insurance company to try and force them to pay off on the claim. We settled, with the insurance company agreeing to find a suitable replacement aircraft for us”.

The replacement sourced by the insurance company was turbine Otter C-FXUY, which was leased from Central Mountain Air for the summer of 1992. Its registration to A.M.Luton and subsequently to North American Gold Centre Inc., was for the purpose of this lease. N214L arrived in Ketchikan from Vancouver in late May 1992, where the 7490 Bristol amphibious floats which had been removed from N58JH were installed and N214L entered service with Ketchikan Air Service on 10 June 1992 and continued in use until the end of September 1992. It was stored during the winter, being registered again to A.M. Luton of Edmonton on 23 March 1993 and its registration to him cancelled on 16 April 1993. By that stage the owners of the Otter had sold it to Air Tindi Ltd., of Yellowknife to whom it was registered as C-FXUY on 16 April 1993. The amphibious floats were removed, it was put on wheel-skis and ferried that month from Ketchikan to Yellowknife, where it entered service with Air Tindi. It was still in basic Central Mountain Air scheme, but with Air Tindi titles. It was later repainted into Air Tindi colour scheme and would fly for Air Tindi out of Yellowknife for many years, on floats during the summer and on wheel-skis in winter.

On 1 June 1993 XUY ran off the runway landing at Yellowknife as it could not maintain direction due to high winds. On 28 July 2000 the Otter was taking off from the East Bay at Yellowknife on floats when smoke and fire appeared in the cockpit. The take-off was rejected and the Otter taxied back to the dock. A fire extinguisher was applied to the lower instrument panel and the fire put out. Maintenance found that a hose in the heater system had moved and contacted the “hot” bus side of a circuit breaker, resulting in a small fire. The damage was repaired and the Otter returned to service. During summer 2003 an attractive ‘moose’ mural drawing was applied to the side of the Otter and it was given fleet number 301.

XUY continued to fly for Air Tindi until a serious accident on 24 June 2005. It departed from the bay at Yellowknife at 08:26 that morning for a flight to Daring Lake. After arrival at the Lake, the aircraft sustained damage to the left water ruder bracket. Upon returning to Yellowknife it was determined that the rudder bracket would have to be repaired by removing the aircraft from the water and welding the bracket at Air Tindi’s hangar at the Yellowknife Airport. To balance the aircraft while pulling it out of the water onto the float cart, weight had to be added to the rear of the aircraft to prevent it and the cart from being too front heavy. To accomplish this, forty imperial gallons of fuel was added to the rear tank before the Otter was towed from the water.

The task of repairing the water rudder bracket was completed at about 18:00 hours and the pilot took off to conduct a half hour flight to burn off the fuel in the rear tank. However, before much fuel could be burned off, the aircraft returned to the Air Tindi float base as the seven passengers for the 18:00 charter to Blachford Lake Lodge (a fishing lodge on Great Slave Lake) were waiting at the dock. The seven passengers got on board and 840 pounds of cargo was loaded. However, the Otter was loaded in such a manner that the Centre of Gravity was beyond the rearward limit.

During the take-off run at 19:12 hours, the aircraft became airborne at about 55 mph, which is lower than the normal take-off speed of 60 mph. It stalled at about fifty feet above the water and the left wing dropped. The aircraft struck the water in the East Bay in a nose-down, left bank attitude. On impact the left wing and float detached and the aircraft came to rest on its left side. The crew was able to evacuate the passengers before the aircraft submerged and local boaters assisted in the rescue. There were no injuries to the seven passengers nor the two crew. The badly damaged Otter was towed back to the shore and put into the Air Tindi hangar. A company spokesman was quoted as saying: “It will definitely take some time to fix”!

The following year, in May 2006, the wrecked Otter was noted on a trailer near the Air Tindi offices at the Yellowknife airport, where it lay for some time.   In December 2006 Air Tindi was taken over by Discovery Air, but Otter XUY was not included in the deal, and remained the property of the former owners of Air Tindi, who had bought the wreck from the insurers. Subsequently the Otter on the trailer was driven away from Yellowknife, reportedly en route to Saskatchewan for rebuild. The registration of the aircraft to Air Tindi was formally cancelled on 11 August 2011. However, several years later, as of summer 2018, there has been no sign of Otter C-FXUY and its current location and status are unknown.

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.