Otter 220 was delivered to the Indian Air Force on 30th January 1958 with serial IM-1719. After test flying at Downsview, it was packed into a crate and shipped to India where it was re-assembled and entered service. Flight Lieutenant (later Wing Commander) Prithpal Singh Bhachu recalls an incident with the Otter on 9th March 1963, at which stage IM-1719 was serving with 59 Squadron: “I was returning from Walong with four passengers when the engine quit completely. Since I was low, about 1,500 above the ground, I had to put the Otter down in a dry river bed, but there was not a scratch to the aircraft”. After ten years flying for the Indian Air Force, the Otter was destroyed in a crash on 11th May 1968 while on an air test flight out of its base at Sarsawa, sadly killing the 41 Squadron Commanding Officer, Squadron Leader Baldev Singh. The Otter broke up in flight while being test flown at 4,000 feet in conditions of severe turbulence. It had a total time of 3,256 hours on the airframe at that time. The Court of Inquiry found that structural failure had occurred due to fatigue, as the aircraft had been operated for most of its life under gusty and turbulent conditions.
On 4th October 1968, a DHC technical representative made a visit to the base at Sarsawa, where the wreckage of the Otter was piled up outside. A wing had come off, struck the tail, which tore the tail plane out of the rear fuselage section. The tech rep concluded that fatigue was not in fact to blame, but that “catastrophic damage was incurred due to elevator tab flutter mechanism. Failure of the elevator caused loss of control, which permitted the aircraft to roll or “bunt” over on its back, causing the wing to break in negative bending with subsequent destruction of the entire empennage and rear fuselage section”.
Full history up to 2005 courtesy of Karl E Hayes © from DHC-3 Otter - A History (CD-ROM 2005)