DHC-3 Otter Archive Master Index

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c/n 226

C-GLAA of Air Schefferville.
Photo: Anthony J. Hickey © September 1993 - Karl E. Hayes Collection
N226UT at Bar River, Ontario.
Photo: Rich Hulina © Circa June 2000 - Karl E. Hayes Collection
N226UT at Birchwood, Alaska.
Photos: Neil Aird © 19 September 2004

c/n 226

57-6108 • (N44CD) • C-GLAA

N226UT

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• 57-6108 United States Army. Delivered 02-Dec-1957. Designated as U-1A.

Initially delivered to Fort Leavenworth, KS for use by the University of Wichita,

Unknown date. 12th Aviation Company at Fort Sill, OK.

Circa 1962. 12th Aviation Company Fort Wainright, AK. Alaska, until June 1971.

Jul-1971. Sharpe Army Depot, Stockton, California where it was put into “serviceable storage.

Feb-1973. Deleted from Army Inventory when it was placed in the hands of the Defence Property Disposal Office for disposal as military surplus.

• (N44CD) City of Sikeston Civil Defence Unit, Silkeston, MO. NTU. Rd 14-Jul-1972. Canx 05-Jun-1973. Aircraft remained in storage.

• C-GLAA Laurentian Air Services Ltd., Ottawa, ON. Regd 15-Jan-1974. This company refurbished and civilianised the aircraft.

• C-GLAA Air Schefferville Inc., Schefferville, QC. Circa 1981.

• C-GLAA Pourvoyeurs Riviere Delay Inc., / Delay River Outfitters Inc., Schefferville, QC. Based Ottawa, ON. Regd 03-Jun-1994. Canx 10-May-1996.

C-GLAA 1191517 Ontario Ltd & 948976 Ontario Limited (Piper Martin Air Partnership Number One), Thunder Bay, ON. Based Sault Ste. Marie, ON. Regd 22 Jan-1999.

C-GLAA Leased to Johnny May’s Air Charter Ltd., Kuujjuaq, QC. Regd 30-Jun-1999. Canx 22-Jun-2000.

Total time: 16,013 hours

N226UT Otters R Us LLC., Anchorage, AK. Regd 29-Jun-2000. Later shown as Chitina, AK from May-2013.

Power plant: Jun-2000. Converted to Garrett TPE 331 engine power by Texas Turbines Inc. at their facility at Decatur, TX. Completed 2001.

Modifications: Jun-2001.Further converted with large scenic windows and repainted by Springer Aerospace at Bar River, ON.

N226UT Leased to Ultima Thule Outfitters, Chitina, AK. Actual dates unknown but photo evidence shows in May 2014.

Current

Otter 226 was delivered to the United States Army on 2nd December 1957 with serial 57-6108 (tail number 76108). It was delivered from Downsview to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas for use by the University of Wichita, after which it joined the 12th Aviation Company at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. It deployed with the 12th Aviation Company in 1961 when the Company moved to Alaska, establishing at Fort Wainright. 76108 continued to fly with the 12th Aviation Company for the remainder of its Army career, until June 1971. The following month, it arrived at the Sharpe Army Depot, Stockton, California where it was put into “serviceable storage”. It remained in storage at Stockton until deleted from the Army inventory in February 1973, when it was placed in the hands of the Defence Property Disposal Office for disposal as military surplus.

The Otter was allocated to the City of Sikeston Civil Defence Unit, Missouri and registered N44CD but never actually went to this unit. Instead, the Unit were assigned U-6A Beaver tail number 54-1697 from surplus Army stocks, which took up the marks N44CD, and the Otter remained in storage in Stockton. It was one of a batch of four ex-Army Otters (manufacturers serial numbers 226, 314, 316 and 348), all in storage at Stockton, sold to Laurentian Air Services Ltd., of Ottawa on 15th January 1974, the price for Otter 226 being $18,200. Laurentian Air Services sold on two of these Otters (314 and 316) and flew the other two (226 and 348) to their maintenance base at Ottawa, where they were refurbished, civilianised and painted in the Laurentian Air Services colour scheme. 76108 (226) was registered C-GLAA and 92210 (348) became C-GLAB, both registered in August 1974 on completion of the work on the aircraft. Both Otters entered service with Laurentian, flying mostly in Quebec and Labrador.

In 1981 the Otters still flying for Laurentian Air Services were transferred to a subsidiary company, Air Schefferville Inc., of Schefferville, Quebec. This was because the aircraft were based at Schefferville and performed most of their flying in Québec, whose authorities preferred to deal with a Quebec corporation rather than an Ontario-based corporation. C-GLAA continued to fly for Air Schefferville for many years, serving the Quebec bush country. An incident was recorded on 8th May 1989 on take-off from Schefferville. During the take-off roll, the rear ski and wheel were damaged. On landing, directional control problems caused the aircraft to veer to the left.  The problem was rectified. Another minor incident was recorded at Arnprior (South Renfrew Municipal) Ontario on 5th October 1991. While taxying on the water to dock in strong, gusty winds, the Otter struck a moored aircraft, damaging the vertical stabiliser and right aileron of the moored aircraft.

C-FLAA continued to fly for Air Schefferville until the company was closed in 1999 and its aircraft sold. The Otter was then sold to 1191517 Ontario Ltd., (Piper Martin Air Partnership Number One), to whom it was registered in January 1999, based at Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. This was a leasing company and the Otter went on lease to Johnny May's Air Charter Ltd, based at Kuujjuaq in northern Québec for the summer of 1999. It spent the winter of 1999 / 2000 parked at Sault Ste. Marie and in May 2000 was put up for sale, having at that time a total airframe time of 16,013 hours. It was sold the following month to another leasing company, Otters R Us LLC., of Anchorage, Alaska to whom it was registered as N226UT on 29th June 2000. It was dispatched south that month to Decatur, Texas where it became the second Otter to be converted with the Garrett TPE 331 engine by Texas Turbines Inc. at their facility at Decatur. After the conversion had been completed in June 2001, it flew north to Springer Aerospace at Bar River, Ontario where it was further converted with large scenic windows and was repainted in an eye-catching red and yellow colour scheme for its next operator, Ultima Thule Outfitters, who were taking the Otter on lease. When this work was finished, the Otter continued north to its new base at Chitina, Alaska.

As its website proclaims: “Ultima Thule wilderness lodge is located 100 miles up the Chitina River from the village of Chitina. Access to the lodge is by aircraft only. We offer air charter service to all areas of the Wrangell/St. Elias National Park and beyond. We can land climbers, mountaineers and skiers at the base of every major peak in the area. We fly regularly to St. Elias, Blackburn, Bona, Wrangell, Sanford, Drum and the Bagley Icefield”. The lodge provides climbing, skiing and hiking adventures, glacier excursions and wildlife viewing. The extra power on N226UT is essential for its high altitude operations in the mountains.

In addition to the services which it provides for guests of Ultima Thule Lodge, since 2007 the Otter has also been used for surveys and transport taskings by the University of Alaska and others. April 2007 saw it in action on surveys over the Bering Glacier and Mounts Logan, Vancouver and St.Elias and again in July 2008 over Mount St.Elias. During 2009 the Otter was again chartered by the University of Alaska at Fairbanks and took part in a large scientific programme undertaken by NASA, named “Operation Ice Bridge”. The purpose of this programme was to take laser observations of ice sheets, sea ice and glaciers, to record the rate at which the ice was melting. NASA’s P-3 Orion was deployed to Greenland for this purpose and its DC-8 to Chile for flights over Antarctica. The Otter was chartered to examine Alaska’s glaciers and was based at Petersburg for these flights.

In late May / early June 2009 N226UT was equipped with a laser altimeter to acquire elevation profiles and compute mass balances of the remote Stikine Glacier and the glaciers surrounding Glacier Bay on the Alaskan peninsula near Juneau. Similar flights were again made during August / September 2009 so that the changes could be ascertained. Also during summer 2009, 37 landings were made by the Otter on Mount Bona, the highest mountain in the Wrangell Mountain Range, at the 15,000 foot level in the snow, to haul out ice cores for scientific analysis. During August 2010 the Otter again flew for NASA on glacier profiling. A laser altimeter and very accurate GPS were installed, to enable N226UT to fly accurate course lines over different glaciers from south-eastern Alaska out to the Aleutians. In March 2012 the Otter was again used on scientific survey flights in the Chugach Mountain Range and the St.Elias Range.

In mid April 2012 it was used on “Snowstar 2012”, based at Toolik Lake north of the Brooks Range. It carried LIDAR equipment, measuring snow cover along the North Slope. This scientific support work was in addition to its main task of supporting the Lodge and its guests and the adventure tourists. An incident reported on CADORS on 6 April 2013 showed it again operating north of the Brooks Range, flying to Inuvik. It entered the ADIZ and landed at Inuvik without filing a flight plan. It was carrying LIDAR, flying for the University of Alaska, part of “Snow SAR Campaign Inuvik”.  In September 2014 it was back at Inuvik on NASA’s “Operation Ice Bridge”, a multi-year research programme operated by the University of Alaska for NASA. It flew out researchers who would check glaciers twice a year, to determine how much ice they had gained or lost. It was the seventh year in which N226UT has been used extensively for scientific research in remote parts of Alaska, a tasking which it managed to combine with its support of the Ultima Thule Lodge. It was still engaged in this dual activity up to autumn 2018 and has often been referred to as “NASA’s Otter”.

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.x