DHC-3 Otter Archive Master Index

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c/n 144

N80940 at Shannon - EINN, Ireland.
Photo: Unknown photographer © 04 March 1972 - Karl E. Hayes Collection
CF-AON at Lac Mance, Québec.
Photo: William Haines © 28 October 1973 - Michael J. Ody Collection
C-FAON of Propair.
Photo: Anthony J. Hickey © April 1993 - Karl E. Hayes Collection
N62KA at Ketchikan - PAKT, Alaska.
Photo: Karl E. Hayes © September 1994
N93356 at Juneau - PAJN, Alaska.
Photos: Neil Aird © 14 September 2004

c/n 144

55-3292 • N80940 • CF-AON • C-FAON • N62KA

N93356

X

 55-3292 United States Army. Delivered 25-Jul-1956. Designated as U-1A.

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

Jul/Aug to Brookley AFB, Mobile, AL. Here the aircraft was loaded on board a ship serving with the Military Sea Transportation Service, which set sail for Bremerhaven, Germany arriving in Aug-1956.

Aug-1956. 2nd Aviation Company based at Illesheim, Germany until Jul-1959 when the unit moved to France.

Jul-1959. 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.

Known to have been based at Orléans during 1965 until Mar-1967

Mar-1967. Assigned to the 56th Aviation Detachment at Coleman Barracks, Mannheim, Germany which took over the duties which the 2nd Aviation Company had performed.

Aug-1971. Into storage at Coleman Barracks Depot , Mannheim, Germany.

• N80940 Ferrer Aviation Inc., Miami, Florida. 02-Feb-1972

Total time, 4,454hrs

• CF-AON St.Louis Aviation Inc., St.Jean Airport, QC. Dates unknown.

• CF-AON La Sarre Air Service Ltd., La Sarre, QC.

• C-FAON La Sarre Air Service Ltd. Re regd circa-1981

• C-FAON Propair Inc., Rouyn Noranda, QC. Based La Sarre, QC. Regd 13-Sep-1989. Canx 20-Apr-1994.

Incident: Chevery Airport, QC. 02-Jan-1984. Made a landing with iced up brakes and ski / wheel combo . On landing the wheels and brakes failed to stop the aircraft and it skidded to a halt almost tipping over.

• N62KA Ketchikan Air Service Inc., Ketchikan, AK. Regd Apr-1994. Canx May-1994.

Airworthiness date: 10-Sep-1994. Category – Normal.

 • N62KA Taquan Air Inc., Ketchikan, AK. Regd May-1997.

Total time: 18,745 hours at May-2000.

• N62KA Scudero Inc., Ketchikan. AK Regd & Canx date unknown.

• N62KA Kenmore Air, Seattle, WA. Regd & Canx date unknown.

• N62KA Leased to Sol Guthrie, dba Sol Air, Ketchikan, AK. Summer 2000.

• N62KA Carmacks Commercial Corporation, Anchorage, AK. Regd 25-Oct-2000.

• N93356 Red Leasing LLC., Juneau, AK. Regd 04-Mar-2003.

• N93356 Leased to Ward Air, Juneau, AK.

Power-plant: Converted to Texas Turbine  Garrett TPE331-10JR-511C by Kal Air  at Vernon, BC.

Accident: Slate Cove, Alaska, 31-Jul-2006 Whilst flying for Ward Air, the aircraft took off from Juneau flying workers to the Kenington gold mine. It was foggy as the floatplane attempted to land in Slate Cove, Berners Bay. The aircraft struck the water hard on landing. The fuselage filled with water from the front, and passengers had to scramble over cargo piled at the aft doorway to escape. PROBABLE CAUSE: "The pilot's failure to maintain altitude / clearance during approach, which resulted in the airplane impacting the surface of the water. Factors associated with the accident were the flat-light and glassy water conditions, which affected the pilot's ability to see the surface of the water”. The aircraft was shipped south to Kal-Air at Vernon, BC., for repair. The rebuilding of the Otter took most of a year it took off from Vernon on 25th August 2007 returning to Juneau to resume service with Ward Air.

Current

Otter 144 was delivered to the United States Army on 25 July 1956 with serial 55-3292 (tail number 53292). It was assigned to the 2nd Aviation Company, Fort Riley, Kansas which later deployed to Germany, based at Illesheim, then France. It was noted visiting London’s Croydon Airport on 6 November 1957, also Gatwick 13 April 1961 and 9 June 1961. It was based with the Company’s platoon at Poitiers during 1964 and the platoon at Orleans during 1965. It continued in service with the 2nd Aviation Company until the unit disbanded in March 1967 and was then assigned to the 56th Aviation Detachment at Coleman Barracks, Mannheim, Germany, which took over the duties which the 2nd Aviation Company had performed. It visited Bristol on 29 July 1967. It continued flying for the Detachment until August 1971 and was then put into storage at Coleman Barracks pending disposal. It was officially deleted from the Army inventory in October 1971. It was one of eight US Army Otters at Coleman Barracks put up for sale by tender in December 1971, the disposal having been entrusted to the USAFE Redistribution & Marketing Center, Mainz-Kastel, Germany.

The successful bidder for all eight aircraft was Ferrer Aviation Inc of Miami, the total price for all eight Otters being $303,640, of which $33,800 was the price for 53292, which had 4,454 hours on the airframe. Ferrer Aviation Inc was the company of Frank Ferrer, whose first Otter was CF-GCV (2), which he had retrieved from the icy wastes of the Labrador Sea in 1959 and who had been dealing in Otters ever since. Ferrer Aviation contracted ferry company Air Convoy to fly the eight Otters to Canada, which took place between February and April 1972. On 2 February 1972 civilian registrations were applied for from the FAA for the eight Otters, 53292 being allocated N80940.

The Otters were flown, two at a time, routing from Coleman Barracks via Saarbrucken, Germany to Ashford in Kent and on to Shannon in Ireland. The first two Otters to arrive at Shannon on 23 February 1972 were N80938 (formerly 53287) and N80940 (formerly 53292). At Shannon ferry tanks were installed by SRS Aviation and they then continued on their delivery flight, next stop Reykjavik, Iceland. From there it was via Greenland and then Goose Bay to Montreal. Both Otters had been sold by Ferrer Aviation to St.Louis Aviation Inc., of Hangar 2, St.Jean Airport, near Montréal. On arrival at St.Jean after a ferry flight from Germany which had taken 42 flying hours, the American registrations were cancelled on 23 March 1972. Both Otters received a major refurbish at St.Jean and conversion to civilian configuration and were re-registered, N80938 becoming CF-AOO and N80940 becoming CF-AON. Both Otters were sold on to La Sarre Air Service Ltd., of La Sarre, Québec and registered to that company in April 1972.  CF-AOO did not last too long, being destroyed in an accident in July 1974 but CF-AON went on to serve the company for many years.

CF-AON was painted into the La Sarre A/S colour scheme of overall yellow with a blue cheatline. It was still part of the company’s fleet when La Sarre became part pf Propair Inc., in 1981, by which stage the Otter was registered C-FAON. La Sarre A/S merged with Air Fecteau Ltée in 1981 to form Propair Inc., which had a massive fleet of 14 Otters, as well as 14 Beavers, all operating from different bases around Québec. While flying for Propair, C-FAON was involved in an accident at Chevery Airport, Québec on 2 January 1984. The night before the pilot had parked the Otter and placed poles under the skis to prevent them from freezing to the snow. He then raised the wheels to the stowed position and set the parking brake. The next morning, he took off from a snow covered surface using the skis and did not lower the wheels and release the parking brake until just prior to landing on a hard surface runway. On touchdown the Otter skidded for 50 feet on the bare, dry runway, almost nosed over and then fell back heavily on its tail. The subsequent investigation revealed that the brakes were frozen. Because the wheels were not used for take-off, the brakes did not release fully when the pilot released the parking brake. On touchdown the partially locked brakes caused the wheels to skid the aircraft. The Otter was repaired and returned to service. During its service with Propair it retained the all yellow colour scheme, with small Propair titles.

On 15 June 1989, while making a pass at low altitude into the sun at Lac Mishisu, Québec the Otter struck the stump of a tree, which caused some damage. It must indeed have been a low pass. The damage was repaired and AON continued to fly for Propair, until sold to Ketchikan Air Service Inc., of Ketchikan, Alaska in April 1994. C-FAON arrived in Vancouver on 14 April 1994 after the cross-country flight from Québec, the same day as the Bill of Sale from Propair to Ketchikan Air Service. It carried small “Aero Accessories” titles. Taped registration N62KA had been applied by 6 May 1994 and the Otter on floats departed from Vancouver the following day, headed north to Ketchikan.

N62KA flew for Ketchikan Air Service for three years, serving the local communities, until new owners of the company closed it down, a sad loss after thirty years in business. During this period it still retained its yellow colour scheme, from its days with La Sarre. It was noted in the Ketchikan Air Service hangar during March 1996, undergoing a major overhaul, with its tail removed. It was back in service in time for the summer 1996 season and continued to fly for the company until it was closed down. Another Ketchikan-based operator, Taquan Air, took over most of Ketchikan Air Service’s assets, including Otter N62KA. The Otter was registered to Taquan Air Service Inc in May 1997. It flew for this company until it encountered financial difficulties towards the end of 1999 and was also closed down.

A sale of the assets of Taquan Air Service Inc., took place at Ketchikan in mid May 2000. Included in the sale was Otter N62KA, still painted in the overall yellow scheme with blue cheatline, on EDO 7170 floats. At that stage it had 18,745 hours total time, was out of hours to an annual inspection and with “log books missing prior to 1972”. The Otter was sold to Kenmore Air of Seattle, and sold on by them to Scudero Inc., the former owners of Taquan Air. It went on lease to Sol Guthrie, trading as Sol Air, who continued to fly out of Ketchikan for the summer of 2000. It was then sold to Carmacks Commercial Corporation of Anchorage, to whom it was registered on 25 October 2000. It was flown down to Seattle for maintenance and then put into storage pending sale. It was later put up for sale, with an asking price of $325,000.

The Otter was purchased by Ward Air Inc., of Juneau, Alaska. In September 2002 it arrived at Vernon, BC., landing on Lake Okanagan on floats. The floats were taken off and it was put on wheels and taken to the nearby facility of Kal Air at the Vernon Airport. Over the winter of 2002 / 2003 the Otter was converted to a Texas Turbine conversion with the Garrett engine by Kal Air (conversion # 7) and painted in Ward Air’s blue and red colour scheme. On 31 March 2003 the Otter was registered to Red Leasing LLC., as N93356, leased to Ward Air, and set off on its delivery flight to Juneau. It flew alongside Ward Air’s piston Otter N63354 (30), later converted to turbine, and a fleet of Beavers. The Otters are used to fly guests to lodges and resorts, as well as for hunters, fishermen, tourists, bear viewers, sightseers and general charter work.

The Wardair website provided some further information on its aircraft’s activities: “Ward Air is proud of its long-standing contracts with the US Forest Service, Alaska Department of Fish & Game, Greens Creek Mine, Alaska Electric Light & Power (AEL&P), Douglas Island Pink and Chum. Greens Creek Mine has been flying its employees and supplies with Ward Air for over thirty years. We fly Fish & Game to some of the most remote locations in South East Alaska to do studies on the local fish and wildlife. The Snettisham Complex includes a hydro-electric plant operated by AEL&P and a salmon hatchery operated by Douglas Island Pink and Chum. Both have been supported by Ward Air since the company was formed”. The two Otters were used on all these tasks.

N93356 was involved in an interesting experiment at Juneau on 17 May 2003. The City of Juneau was conducting noise tests in the downtown harbour to determine if there was a significant reduction in noise by using turbine powered otters instead of standard Otters. Based on the results, the local government was to consider an incentive programme with low interest loans, to encourage the conversion of engines to turbine as part of a noise reduction plan. Three Otters were involved, one of the locally based Wings of Alaska standard Otters, a Pro Mech Air Vazar turbine Otter with the 750hp PT-6 engine, which flew in from Ketchikan and N93356 as the Texas Turbine 900hp conversion. Evidently the test must have proven the suitability of the turbine Otter, as before long all the Otters flying from Juneau and Ketchikan had been converted to turbine power.

N93356 continued flying for Ward Air until disaster struck on 31 July 2006. On that day the Otter crashed on landing at Slate Cove in Berner’s Bay, some sixty miles northwest of Juneau. It was carrying a pilot and six passengers, who were employees of the Kensington Gold Mine, who were being transported to the mine from Juneau. There was fog and low cloud in the area when the Otter commenced its approach. The right float and wing hit the water as the aircraft was in a right banked turn. The float was torn off, as was the wing and the Otter sank, although all the occupants got out and there were only minor injuries.

The Otter however was badly damaged, with substantial warping of the fuselage in addition to damaged wings, floats and engine. Its total airframe time was 20,040 hours at the time of the crash. The sunken Otter was brought to the surface by a crane mounted on a landing craft, shipped south and transported back to Kal Air at Vernon, BC for complete rebuild. A new Garrett engine was installed during the rebuild, which was designated Texas Turbine conversion # 29. Work on the Otter took most of a year and N93356 took off from Vernon on 25 August 2007, returning to Juneau to resume service with Ward Air. It was flown on straight floats, alongside N63354 (30), which is on amphibious floats.  Both Otters continue to fly for Ward Air.

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.