DHC-3 Otter Archive Master Index

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c/n 165

CF-DDX at Ear Falls, Ontario.
Photo: Unknown photographer © September 1978 - Karl E. Hayes Collection
C-FDDX on straight skiis.
Photo: Robert S. Grant © April 1984 - Aird Archives
C-FDDX at Hearst, Ontario.
Photo: Michel Leonard © 29 June 2008
C-FDDX with Alkan Air, in striking new livery.
Photo: Jeff Faulkner © July 2018

c/n 165

55-3306 • N1905R • CF-DDX



• 55-3306 United States Army. Delivered 25-Oct-1956. Designated as U-1A.

 Initially assigned to 3rd Aviation Company, Fort Riley, KS.

July 1957.Deployed with the Company to Illesheim, Germany until disbanded in Nov-1959.

Jan-1962 was serving with the Headquarters Company, 205th Transportation Command in Germany.

Mar-1962. 2nd Military Intelligence Battalion, Sembach AB., Germany.

Apr-1963. 245th Transportation Company, Finthen, Germany as a support aircraft.

Jan-1964. Coleman Barracks Depot, Mannheim, Germany for overhaul.

May-1964. Deployed to Iran, to support the Corps of Engineers on survey duties.

Aug-1969. Returned to Coleman Barracks Depot. Mannheim, Germany.

Feb-1970. Sharpe Army Depot, Stockton, CA.

Jul-1970. Fort Hood, TX., as an operational support aircraft flying for the Air Maintenance Branch.

Jan-1970. Deleted from the inventory before being put up for disposal as military surplus.

• N1905R. Owner / Operator unknown.

• CF-DDX Severn Enterprises Ltd., Thunder Bay, ON. Regd 05-Oct-1973.

• CF-DDX Lac Seul Airways, Ear Falls, ON. Regd date unknown.

• C-FDDX Lac Seul Airways, Ear Falls, ON. Re regd 6th February 1976. Canx 01-Sep-1982.

Note: Also wore Hanaway’s Flying Service titles during 1978.

• C-FDDX Red Lake Airways Ltd., Kenora, ON. Regd 23rd January 1984. Canx 26-Jan-1984.

• C-FDDX Kenora Air Service Ltd., Kenora Regd 01-Jun-1984. Canx 12-Jul-1984.

• C-FDDX Red Lake Airways Ltd., Red Lake. Based at Kenora. Regd 18-Jan-1985.

• C-FDDX Kuby's Aircraft Ltd., Kenora, ON. Regd 04-Jan-2000. Canx 04-Jun-2003.

• C-FDDX Recon Air Corporation, Geraldton, ON. Regd 04-Jun-2003. Canx 10-Aug-2004.

• C-FDDX Hearst Air Service Limited, Hearst, ON. Regd 27-Aug-2004.

Power plant: Converted to Vazar Turbine. Date currently unknown. Airframe: tt. 15,600 hrs.

• C-FDDX Alkan Air Ltd., Whitehorse, YT. Regd 29-Aug-2016.

• C-FDDX Sudbury Aviation Ltd., Azilda, ON. Regd 21-Jan-2021.

• C-FDDX True North Airways Inc., Azilda, ON. Regd 21-Jan-2021.

Accident: 13-Oct-2022 c. 09:50 edt Lake Pluto, NE of Mistissini, QC. Two rescued, pilot inj. Airlifted to hospital. Aircraft partially submerged.

Photo: RCAF JRCC Trenton © 13 October 2022

• C-FDDX Laval Aviation Ltée., Laval, QC. Regd 12-Jul-2023.



Otter 165 was delivered to the United States Army on 25 October 1956 with serial 55-3306 (tail number 53306). It was assigned to the 3rd Aviation Company, Fort Riley, Kansas and deployed with the Company to Illesheim, Germany in July 1957. The Company disbanded in November 1959 but 53306 remained based in Europe and by January 1962 was serving with Headquarters Company, 205th Transportation Command in Germany until March 1962 when it joined the 2nd Military Intelligence Battalion based at Sembach Air Base, Germany. In April 1963 it joined the 245th Transportation Company based at Finthen, Germany as a support aircraft and in January 1964 it went to the Depot at Coleman Barracks, Mannheim, Germany for overhaul and to be prepared for service with the US Army Corps of Engineers in Iran.

In May 1964, painted in a white and red colour scheme, and sporting civilian registration N1905R it entered service with the 64th Engineer Battalion based at Qualeh Morgeh military airfield, Tehran. The Army maintained a hangar at the field adjacent to the USAF’s facility, where its two C-47s were based. During the 1950s and 60s, the Corps of Engineers, supported by Army aviation units, undertook considerable mapping and survey work in Ethiopia, Iran, Liberia and Libya, some of it apparently of a sensitive nature or carried out in sensitive areas. Because of this, some (but not all) of the aircraft involved were given civilian registrations, although these did not appear on any published FAA register. For example, in Ethiopia, U-6A Beaver N3060R was in use, as well as UH-1B Huey helicopters N1901R, N1902R, N1903R and N1904R. The Otter used in Iran, N1905R, followed on from this sequence.

During 1966/1967 Don Bailey was assigned to the unit in Iran, known for diplomatic purposes as the “Topographic Training Team”, although it was not a training unit but carried out actual survey work. He was primarily a helicopter pilot, flying the unit’s OH-23F Hillers, but also flew as a co-pilot on the Otters. Each of the unit’s aircraft was given a name, which it used as its radio call sign. The unit had three Otters – two were stationed in Tehran (53306/N1905R “Mary Ann” and 76123 (259) “Redwood”) and one up north of the country flying out of Meshad (92230 (385) “Tree Chopper”).

53306/N1905R continued in use with the unit in Tehran until August 1969 when it lost its civilian registration and reverted to Army tail number 53306. It went back to the Coleman Barracks Depot in Germany. From there it was transported back to the United States, arriving at the Sharpe Army Depot, Stockton, California in February 1970. After overhaul it was assigned in July 1970 to Fort Hood, Texas as an operational support aircraft. It flew for the Air Maintenance Branch and was used to carry maintenance crews for the repair of Army aircraft around the Texas/Louisiana/Oklahoma regions. The Branch also flew a Beech C-45. This use of the Otter continued until November 1971 and 53306 was deleted from the inventory in January 1972, before being put up for disposal as military surplus.

The buyer of the Otter was Severn Enterprises Ltd of Thunder Bay, Ontario. The Otter was ferried from Fort Hood to Thunder Bay where it was overhauled and civilianised and registered to Severn Enterprises Ltd as CF-DDX on 5 October 1973. This company was owned by Orville Wieben, who was also the owner of Superior Airways Ltd. DDX was painted in the same red, white and black colour scheme as CF-GBX (4), Superior Airways existing Otter and once DDX was ready for service it flew north to be based out of Sioux Lookout and Pickle Lake, serving the bush country of North West Ontario. DDX tore its tail ski during the winter of 1973/74 after hitting an ice ridge north of Pickle Lake but was repaired. It continued in service with Superior Airways until sold to Lac Seul Airways of Ear Falls, Ontario to whom it was registered as C-FDDX on 6 February 1976, being re-painted into Lac Seul Airways own colour scheme.

Lac Seul Airways, which principally served tourists, fishermen and hunters accessing the Ontario wilderness during the summer months, was founded and owned by Thomas Hanaway and during 1978 the Otter also carried Hanaways Flying Service titles. It flew alongside Otter CF-HXY (67) in the Lac Seul fleet, both painted in the same scheme of white overall with a red cheatline and Lac Seul Airways fuselage titles. The fleet also included some Beavers and Cessna 180s. DDX continued in service with Lac Seul Airways until sold to Red Lake Airways, Red Lake, Ontario to whom it was registered on 23 January 1984. It was replaced by Otter C-FPEN (439) with Lac Seul Airways.

Red Lake Airways was another Ontario bush operator, and as well as the Otter flew a Cessna 185, a Beaver and a Norseman, all flying from Red Lake. The Otter went on lease to Kenora Air Service for the summer of 1984, then reverting to Red Lake Airways. It was flying for this company when it crashed at Vermillion Lake, Ontario on 20 June 1985. About thirty minutes after take-off, the float equipped Otter suffered a partial power loss and smoke began to pour out of the top of the engine cowling. The engine began to surge and then seized. The pilot decided to make an emergency landing on a lake he had just overflown. However, the Otter struck trees short of the lake and was substantially damaged.

The wreck of the Otter was brought to Kuby’s Aircraft at Kenora, Ontario for a “slow rebuild”, but in the end lay at Kuby’s Yard for eighteen years. Registration of DDX to Red Lake Airways was cancelled on 23 July 1993. On 4 January 2000, fifteen years after the crash, it was registered to Kuby’s Aircraft Ltd, the rebuild not yet started. On 4 June 2003 it was registered to Recon Air Corporation of Geraldton, Ontario, another company which specialises in the repair and rebuild of Otters, who had purchased the Otter as a rebuild project. It was trucked from Kenora to Geraldton, where its rebuild at last commenced. In January 2004 the Otter was advertised for sale as having been “stored in heated hangar for 18 years”. It had 6,753 hours total time, a “lowest time Otter”. The asking price, without engine, was $675,000 Canadian. The aircraft was ready to have a turbine engine installed, which could be supplied either by the seller or the buyer.

The Otter was sold to Hearst Air Service Ltd., of Hearst-Carey Lake, Ontario. Hearst Air provided a PT-6 engine and Recon Air installed the engine on the re-built Vazar turbine Otter. C-FDDX was registered to Hearst Air Service on 27 August 2004 and delivered from Geraldton to Carey Lake, where it resumed its flying career, nineteen years after its crash at Vermillion Lake. It was painted into Hearst Air Service corporate colours and joined the company’s fleet of two Beavers, mostly used to fly fishermen, hunters and tourists to remote camps in northern Ontario. The company also supported mining exploration work in the bush, with the Otter flying on skis during the winter months.

An incident was recorded on 22 April 2008 when the Otter was operating from the frozen Attawapiskat River in northern Ontario, supporting mineral exploration, along with a Bell Jet Ranger helicopter. The Otter landed on the frozen surface of the river, but as it came to a stop the main skis broke through the ice and the aircraft sank into the water up to its lower fuselage. Incorrect information had been given to the pilot as to the condition of the ice, and it had been raining heavily which had caused a deterioration in the ice. The Otter was retrieved from the river, repaired and returned to service.

As at the end of 2012 the Hearst Air fleet comprised a Cessna 208 Caravan amphibian, a Turbo Beaver, a piston Beaver and Turbine Otter DDX. The company continued to provide fishing and hunting charters throughout northern Ontario, general charter work and continued support for mining and exploration activities.  

In February 2015 the Otter was advertised for sale by Hearst Air through brokers Lauriault Aviation. It had total time of 15,557 hours, a PT-6-34 engine, zero hours since major overhaul, Sea Flight 8100 floats, the nine thousand pound upgross modification and BARON STOL. It had an asking price of $1,500,000. A buyer was found and the registration of C-FDDX to Hearst Air was cancelled on 20 April 2016 and it was registered on 29 August 2016 to its new owners, Alkan Air Ltd., of Whitehorse in the Yukon. It had been acquired by Alkan Air as a replacement for their own Otter G-GLCS (428) , which had been damaged in an accident. DDX entered service with Alkan Air, still painted in basis Hearst Air colour scheme. It has been repainted and also equipped with Yukon Door.

Over the winter of 2017 / 2018 the Otter went to STOLAirus at Kelowna, BC., for overhaul and repaint and had the “Yukon Door” conversion. It re-entered service with Alkan Air for summer 2018 in a dramatic new colour scheme.  It continued in service with Alkan Air until sold in February 2021 and on 21 February there was a change of registered owner to Sudbury Aviation Ltd., of Azilda, Ontario and the same day a further change to True North Airways Inc., of Azilda, described on their website as a change of company name. True North Airways flies in support of fishing lodges and has a flying school and also a general charter business serving the bush country.

Otter C-FDDX continued in service with True North Airways until an incident on 13 October 2022 when it ditched under unknown circumstances into Lac Pluto, north-east of Mistissini, Québec and 210 miles north of Bagotville. Photographs show the Otter completely submerged in the lake with only the tip of the tail above the water. The rescue was co-ordinated by the RCAF’s JRCC at Trenton. A CC-130H Hercules of 424 Squadron, Trenton was launched as well as a CH-146 Griffon helicopter of 439 Squadron at Bagotville, which rescued the two on board the Otter and took them to hospital. On 16 October the Otter was lifted out of the lake by Super Puma helicopter C-FPUM of Helicarrier Inc., which arrived from its base at Québec City. The Otter was to be taken to a repair facility for assessment of the damage.

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.