Otter 158 was delivered to the United States Navy on 11th October 1956 with BuAer serial 144671. It was one of a batch of six Otters delivered to VX-6 Squadron during September/October 1956 and was flown initially to the Squadron's base at Quonset Point Naval Air Station, Rhode Island. With VX-6 the Otter was coded JD-15. All six Otters were transported to the Antarctic, some by ship and some on board USAF C-124 Globemasters. 144671 was one of the Otters to make the long journey south by sea, together with 144672 (160). Both aircraft were packed into crates and sailed aboard the 'USS Wyandot' which departed from Davisville, Rhode Island on 9th November 1956. Entering the Antarctic Circle in mid-December, the ship ploughed its way through 1,600 miles of ice-covered waters before finding a suitable site for a base on 27th January 1957, on the Filchner Ice Shelf over the Weddell Sea. The new base was named Ellsworth Station. Once “ashore”, personnel began the arduous task of unloading over six thousand tons of cargo from the ship, while members of VX-6 went about the business of assembling their crated aircraft. In addition, a suitable landing field was marked off using barrels. The first UC-1 Otter out of its crate was 144671. On 2nd February 1957 it carried the Commander of the Weddell Sea Task Group to meet with Sir Vivian Fuchs, commander of the nearby Shackleton base of the British Antarctic Expedition.
144671 remained with VX-6 until 1966, when the unit relinquished its Otters. It flew a total of 761 hours in Antarctic service. It was transported back to the United States and assigned to the 162nd Transportation Battalion of the Connecticut Army National Guard in July 1966, under which came the 162nd Transportation Aviation Repair Shop (TARS), based at the Groton Turnbull Airport, Connecticut. This was a fourth echelon maintenance depot, the Otter being used to deliver and collect parts and personnel in connection with the repair of Army aircraft undertaken at the depot. Also on strength with the unit were a number of U-6A Beavers (tail numbers 26132, 41717, 54609 and 72565).
The Otter was painted in the olive drab colours of most Army Otters, but unusually retained its Navy BuAer number. It was accepted back by the Navy on 29th November 1974 and joined the Naval Test Pilot's School at Patuxent River NAS, Maryland where Otter 144670 (150) was already in service. 144671 was however stricken from the Naval inventory on 24th December 1974 and only flew for three hours with the NTPS. It remained at Patuxent River Naval Air Station and was taken across the airfield to the Salvage Section, where parts were removed from it when needed to service 144670. It was noted in a dismantled condition at Patuxent River in May 1980.
Later that year, the Otter was sold and was trucked to Calgary, Alberta where it arrived on 8th January 1981 in a crate. It went into storage at Calgary for a time, until Kimba Air Service commenced working on the aircraft. It was intended for the Otter to go to Seattle, where it was to be converted as the third Cox turbo Otter. Unfortunately, on 14th May 1983, while the Otter was still being worked on, there was a large hangar fire at Calgary and the Otter was destroyed in the blaze, which also consumed twenty-one other aircraft, including a Beaver and a Twin Otter.
Full history courtesy of Karl E. Hayes © from DHC-3 Otter: A History (2005).