Otter 221 was delivered to the Indian Air Force on 4th February 1958 with serial IM-1720. After test flying at Downsview, it was packed into crate and shipped to India, where it was re-assembled and entered service. The Indian Air Force continued to fly the Otter until the type was formally withdrawn from the inventory on 31st March 1991 and the surviving aircraft were offered for sale. IM- 1720 had been noted serving with 41 Squadron at Palam during the years 1976 to 1980. Other details of its Air Force service are unknown, but it had accumulated 6,174 hours’ total time when withdrawn from service.
The successful bidders for the Indian Otters were Mike Hackman Aircraft Sales / La Ronge Aviation, who travelled to India to prepare the Otters to be shipped back to Canada. IM-1720 was located at Barrackpore Air Base and was one of eight Otters shipped from Calcutta by ship to Vancouver and then overland to Saskatoon, where they arrived on 30th April 1994. This Otter and two more of the former Indian aircraft, numbers 37 and 221, were sold to Kenmore Air Harbor Inc. of Seattle and were trucked from Saskatoon to Kenmore's base at Kenmore on the northern end of Lake Washington in Seattle. Here they were rebuilt by Kenmore Air Harbor and converted to turbine power with the installation of PT-6 engines. Otter 221 was registered to Kenmore Air Harbor Inc. in May 1995 as N50KA and, painted in Kenmore's smart yellow and white trim, joined the company's fleet.
As well as flying on Kenmore's scheduled commuter and charter network around the Seattle area and up to Vancouver Island, N50KA has also ventured much further afield. In November 1998 N50KA was chartered by Air Serv International to fly humanitarian flights on behalf of Mission Aviation Fellowship in Honduras, which had just been devastated by 'Hurricane Mitch'. For this mission, the Otter was flown by Rich Herman, who took time out from his job of flying piston Otters for Aeronautical Services around the San Juan islands off the Washington coast. N50KA's first flight was the short hop from its Kenmore base to Seattle's Renton Airport, landing on the lake. Here its floats were taken off and it was put on wheels.
It then set off for Redlands, California (where Air Serv are based)-Tucson, Arizona-Chihuahua-Monterey-Villa Hermosa (all in Mexico)-San Pedro Sula-Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras, where the Otter was to be based. It flew from there each day during December 1998 to Sotto Cano Air Base, a military airfield to where relief supplies were being flown by the USAF and civilian aircraft chartered by the international aid agencies. The Otter uplifted a ton of foodstuffs per trip (rice, beans etc.) and medicines and flew into dirt strips at small villages such as Aguacate, Ahaus, Moc, Koko, Puerto Lempira, Wampu and El Carbon, along the 'Mosquito Coast' of Honduras. It certainly was a very different tasking to the Otter's normal job of flying commuters around Seattle. N50KA flew 117 hours on this mission, not including the ferry flights, flew 16,812 miles and delivered 65,000 pounds of relief supplies. It then re-traced its steps and re-entered service with Kenmore Air Harbor in February 1999.
For the winter of 2000/2001, N50KA together with sister ship N87KA (11) were chartered to Island Seaplanes of Nassau in the Bahamas. The two Otters were put on EDO amphibious floats and departed Kenmore in November 2000 for the six-month lease, during which they were flown by Kenmore pilots. The ferry flight time was 27 hours with stops at Twin Falls, Idaho-Mesquite, Arizona- El Paso, Texas-Louisiana-Mobile, Alabama-Talahassee, Florida-Fort Lauderdale, Florida-Nassau. As the Island Seaplanes website proclaimed: “Our seaplanes make getting around the Bahamas a breeze. Equipped with amphibious floats, we can pick up and deliver from land and sea. Charter connections between airports, yacht harbours, lodges and pristine beaches are all easily made with our 9 passenger turbo Otters, leased from Kenmore Air of Seattle, a respected giant in the seaplane world. Kenmore converted the original, lumbering piston-powered version into the more reliable and quieter turboprop edition. In Nassau our base of operations is at Million Air, a first class corporate flight center at Nassau International Airport”. As well as charters, the company also operated scheduled Out Island day excursions to such points as Exumas and Harbour Island. The two Otters returned to Seattle in May 2001 and resumed service with Kenmore Air Harbor.
Full history up to 2005 courtesy of Karl E Hayes © from DHC-3 Otter - A History (CD-ROM 2005)