Otter 202 was delivered to McMurray Air Service Ltd., of Uranium City, Saskatchewan on 28th May 1957, registered CF-JXR. It is mentioned in the Western Area SAR files on 29th December 1957, going to the assistance of Beaver CF-GQZ. The Beaver was overdue on a flight from Embarras to McMurray and the Otter commenced a search. The Beaver was sighted at the mouth of the Firebag River by the Otter, which then landed to assist. The Beaver had landed with engine trouble and the pilot was flown to McMurray in Otter JXR.
In April 1961, the Otter was one of eight aircraft flying under charter for the Polar Continental Shelf Project, based at Isachsen, in the Northwest Territories in the High Arctic. Isachsen is on the western shore of Ellef Ringnes Island. The other aircraft involved were CF-LAP, another McMurray Air Services Otter, CF-JOK an Aero Commander of Kenting Air Services, DC-3s CF-GKZ of Nordair and CF-IQF of Wheeler Airlines, Sikorsky S-55s CF-HVR and CF-MYV and Bell 47 CF-MYU, all of Autair Helicopters of Montreal, who supported the Project in its formative years.
On Saturday 29th April 1961 Otter JXR took off from Isachsen with the pilot and three scientists attached to the Project on board, headed for a camp established on the sea ice of the Arctic Ocean, eighty miles north of the nearest land. The scientists were to take bottom samples near the edge of the Shelf and to study temperatures and currents on the ocean itself. The Otter was on wheel skis and was described as being white in colour with red dayglo on the wingtips and empennage. It suffered engine failure and landed on the sea ice in the vicinity of the camp, at 81.24 North 104.16 West. It sank initially to the level of the wings. The four occupants exited the aircraft and there were no casualties.
The pilot had put out a 'Mayday' call before landing on the rugged sea ice, which resulted in a major search-and-rescue operation. Other Project aircraft began the search and they were joined the next day by a Lancaster from the RCAF's 111 Rescue Unit at Winnipeg and by two C-47s from 102 Rescue Unit, Trenton, which were flying from Resolute Bay at the time, 320 miles to the south, on another mission. The downed Otter was first spotted by the Kenting Air Services Aero Commander, which had been performing aerial magnetometer work for the Project. The pilot radioed back to base at Isachsen that the four on board the Otter were alive and well. The Otter carried emergency rations, sleeping bags and a tent, so the occupants were able to look after themselves until rescue arrived. They were picked up by the S-55 helicopter CF-HVR and flown to Isachsen. There was no rescue for the Otter unfortunately which subsequently sank. The registration was later cancelled due to CF-JXR being “lost at sea”.
Full history up to 2005 courtesy of Karl E Hayes © from DHC-3 Otter - A History (CD-ROM 2005)