Otter 206 was delivered to the Indian Air Force on 15th November 1957 with serial IM-1708. After test flying at Downsview, it was packed into a crate and shipped to India where it was re-assembled. The Indian Air Force continued to fly the Otter until the type was formally withdrawn from the inventory on 31st March 1991 and the surviving aircraft were offered for sale. The successful bidders were Mike Hackman Aircraft Sales/La Ronge Aviation, who travelled to India to prepare the Otters to be shipped back to Canada. IM-1708 was located at Gwuahati Air Base, Assam and was one of four Otters shipped from Calcutta to Vancouver and then overland to Saskatoon, where they arrived late January 1995.
Otter 206 was sold on to Springer Aerospace Ltd of Bar River, Ontario to whom it was registered C-FWYF in November 1995. They prepared it for its next owner, Wipaire Inc. of Inver Grove, Minnesota to whom it was registered the following month as N455A. Wipaire Inc., who manufacture aircraft floats, equipped the Otter with a set of their Wipline 8000 amphibious floats, and it was then sold on to Jack-Knife Associates Inc. of Anchorage, Alaska, trading as Wood River Lodge, to whom it was registered in May 1996. The Otter, which is named “Big Red”, is used to service Wood River Lodge, flying alongside two Beavers. The Lodge, located near to Dillingham, Alaska has its own website from which the following is taken:
“Wood River Lodge is located within the Wood Tikchik State Park, a one and a half million acre park that encompasses mountains, lakes, rivers, glaciers and wildlife with scenery that rivals any in the world. The Agulowak River flows in front of the lodge. Rugged Jack-Knife Mountain rises to the south. Within the park you will find grizzly bear, moose, wolf and caribou, many kinds of birds including Bald and Golden eagles, tundra swans and waterfowl. You can see glaciers hanging over a silent, mirrored lake, snow-covered mountains reflected in its blue-green surface. Experience your plane setting down on the surface of that lake so softly you aren't sure you are on the water until you see the wake extending from the floats. Our Otter and Beavers can take our guests, their guides and equipment to any of the rivers, streams or lakes they choose to fish”.
The aircraft arrived Vernon, BC late January 2005 to be converted to a Texas Turbine by Kal Air, conversion # 16. It was registered to GCI Communication Corp of Anchorage on 25 January 2005. After the turbine conversion was completed, the Otter left Vernon at the end of April 2005 to return to Alaska and continued service of the Wood River Lodge at Dillingham.
Full history up to 2005 courtesy of Karl E Hayes © from DHC-3 Otter - A History (CD-ROM 2005)
Accident 16 km (10 mls) NW of Aleknagik, AK 09-Aug-2010. The amphibious float-equipped aircraft sustained substantial damage when it impacted mountainous tree-covered terrain, Of the nine people aboard, the airline transport pilot and four passengers died at the scene, and four passengers sustained serious injuries. One of the passengers killed in the crash was Ted Stevens (86), a former longtime Republican senator. Former NASA administrator Sean O'Keefe was also on board but survived the crash.
At the time of the accident, marginal visual meteorological conditions were reported at the Dillingham Airport, about 18 miles south of the accident site. The weather conditions at the accident site at that time are not known; however, searchers encountered instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) when they arrived at the accident site almost 6 hours later.
The flight originated from a GCI-owned remote fishing lodge on the southwest shoreline of Lake Nerka, about 14:30 ADT. The flight was en route to a remote sport fishing camp on the banks of the Nushagak River, about 52 miles southeast of the GCI lodge. No flight plan was filed.
About 18:15 ADT, GCI's lodge manager contacted personnel at the sports fishing camp to inquire about the airplane's proposed return time. The fishing camp personnel told the GCI lodge manager that the airplane had not arrived, and that they assumed that the pilot had chosen a different fishing destination. The GCI lodge manager then initiated a phone and radio search to see if the airplane had diverted to Dillingham, Alaska or if it was en route back to the GCI lodge. Unable to locate the airplane, GCI lodge personnel initiated an aerial search along the pilot's anticipated route. Additional search airplanes and helicopters in the area voluntarily joined the search for the missing airplane. The airplane was officially reported overdue to the Federal Aviation Administration at 18:59 ADT.
About 20:05 ADT, volunteer airborne search personnel located the wreckage along the anticipated flight route, about 900 feet above mean sea level in the Muklung Hills, in steep, heavily wooded terrain, about 19 miles southeast of the GCI lodge.
The closest weather reporting facility was the Dillingham Airport, about 18 miles south of the accident site. At 14:55 ADT, about 10 minutes after the presumed time of the accident, the Dillingham weather observation reported, in part: wind, 180° (true) at 12 knots, gusting to 23 knots; visibility, 3 statute miles with light rain and mist; clouds and sky condition, 600 feet scattered, 1,000 feet overcast; temperature, 52° Fahrenheit (F); dew point, 48° F; altimeter, 29.58 inches of Mercury. No emergency locator transmitter (ELT) signal was detected during the aerial search. Examination of the wreckage revealed that the ELT had separated from its mounting bracket during impact, and the antenna cable was found separated from the ELT.