Otter number 24 was sold to Widerøs Flyveselskap & Polarfly A/S, based at Bodø in northern Norway. During 1953 Widerøs were flying scheduled services out of Bodø using Norseman aircraft. That year Otter G-ANCM (17) was demonstrated to Widerøs, who were awarded a contract from SAS to fly some of its scheduled services in northern Norway starting in 1954, for which purpose Widerøs decided to acquire Otter aircraft. Number 24 was their first purchase. It was painted in a Spartan green colour scheme, allocated the registration LN-SUV and completed on 15 February 1954. It was crated and shipped to Norway but was damaged en route and returned to Downsview. It was replaced by Otter number 41, which was allocated the marks LN-SUV and delivered in June 1954.
Meanwhile Otter 24 was being repaired at Downsview and on completion of the works it was sold to Imperial Oil Air Transport Ltd., of Toronto on 24 September 1954, being registered to them as CF-IOF on 21 October 1954. It joined Otter CF-IOD (6) which had been delivered to Imperial Oil in December 1952. Both Otters were in the same colour scheme of grey overall with a red cheatline, Imperial Oil being Esso’s Canadian affiliate. Whereas IOD was based at Dawson Creek, BC IOF was based at Edmonton, although it spent much of its time flying in the bush country of the Northwest Territories, supporting the company’s exploration work. It flew personnel, equipment and supplies into drilling camps throughout the Territories and supported camp moves. There was a change of registered owner to Imperial Oil Ltd., on 24 November 1955 but activities continued as before.
IOF was to remain in service with Imperial Oil for 15 years. It came to the notice of the SAR authorities on a few occasions, experiencing communications difficulties, examples being 2 April 1958 Hay River to Norman Wells and 25 August 1958 Edmonton VFR to Stien River and onwards to Hay River. In the spring of 1963 it helped evacuate the 1,800 residents of Hay River, when the flooding river required a massive airlift of the population. The company’s other Otter IOD had been sold in September 1966 (traded into DHC for a Caribou CF-LAN), leaving Otter IOF to soldier on supporting Imperial Oil’s exploration efforts in the norther bush country alongside the Caribou.
Imperial Oil arranged for its remaining Otter and the Caribou to be replaced by two DHC-6 Twin Otters, the first of which CF-IOH was delivered in January 1969. Once it had been introduced into service Single Otter IOF was put up for disposal and sold to Carter Air Services Ltd., of Hay River, NWT., to whom it was registered on 19 June 1969. With its new owner IOF would continue to serve the Northwest Territories as it had done before, but now available for charter work to the public. The second Twin Otter CF-IOK was delivered to Imperial Oil in January 1970, following which Caribou CF-LAN was sold the following month. Imperial Oil’s bush operation from then on continued with its pair of Twin Otters.
Carter Air Services was based at Hay River, on the south shore of Great Slave Lake, which was and is an important town in the Northwest Territories. It featured both an airport and a float plane dock on Hay River, permitting year-round operations by the Carter fleet. The company had been founded in 1962 by bush pilot Merlyn Carter, at first flying Norseman CF-FUU and Lockheed 10 CF-HTV. He was a famous northern aviator who did much to open up the Territories to tourists and fishermen. During his career he amassed more than 25,000 flying hours, half of them on Otters. The Norseman was sold and replaced by Otter CF-IOF which Merlyn Carter bought from Imperial Oil in June 1969, in time for the summer season. The Otter was painted in Carter Air Services colour scheme of white upper fuselage, black cheatline, all-yellow lower fuselage and Carter Air Services Hay River fuselage titles. IOF was destined to fly for the company for all of 24 years. The Lockheed 10 was lost in a crash in July 1972 and replaced by Otter CF-CZP (69) which joined the fleet in July 1973 and was also painted in the same colour scheme.
Merlyn Carter set up tent camps near the mouth of the Tree River on the Arctic Ocean, as well as at other excellent fishing locations such as Coppermine River, Nonacho Lake, Point Lake. McKay Lake, Thubun Lake, Gagnon Lake and Brabant Lake on the McKenzie River. In doing so Merlyn and his wife Jean became early pioneers of tourism in the NWT. Eventually their several sport fishing camps developed into one main camp at Nonacho Lake. Sports fishermen from around the world enjoyed the fishing and camps and lodges serviced by the Carter Air Services two Otters. In addition the Otters transported hundreds of boats and canoes strapped to the floats so that canoeists could access their dream rivers throughout the North. The Otters also took thousands of tourists and sightseers and naturalists into Nahanni National Park and other scenic locations throughout the Territories. They also provided air service to the Slavey, Cree, Dogrib and Chipewyan native peoples living in remote areas of the Canadian North.
Carter Air Service certainly had a busy pair of Otters engaged on all these tasks, but the operation was a safe one, despite flying in the demanding environment of Northern Canada. Only one incident involving IOF is recorded, when on 15 September 1976 the Otter was roaded to Calgary for repairs by Field Aviation, having suffered storm damage to the tail and rear fuselage. It was soon back in service. Otter CZP was sold in May 1980 to Raecom Air, having been replaced by a Twin Otter C-FMHR. Otter IOF flew alongside the Twin Otter throughout the 1980s and into the 1990s.
During the period November 1992 to April 1993, IOF flew for Air Tindi (which had been re-named from Raecom Air) out of Yellowknife when their Otter CZP was being repaired after a crash. After IOF returned to Hay River, its 24 years of service with Carter Air Services came to an end and it was sold the following month. By that stage the company’s original Twin Otter had been replaced by another Twin Otter C-GKAZ and Carter Air Services continued in operation with this Twin Otter and a Cessna 180, its long period of Single Otter operations over. Today these aircraft fly from the Merlyn Carter Airport at Hay River, named in his honour.
The buyer of Otter IOF was aircraft broker Randy D’Aoust who had a base on his farm at St.Albert near Edmonton and whose company was called Quality Aircraft Sales, although he also had a number of other companies. The Otter flew south to Edmonton and was registered to Randi Air Ltd., trading as Caribou Air, as C-FIOF on 31 May 1993. It then went on short-term lease to Reliance Airways Ltd., of Fort Smith, NWT., to whom it was registered on 3 June 1993, before reverting to Randi Air Ltd on 27 July 1993. It then went on lease to Arctic Wings & Rotors Ltd., of Inuvik, NWT., being registered to them on 13 August 1993 and was to remain based at Inuvik for two years. The Otter joined their fleet of single Cessnas, Navajos and Islanders, serving the very remote northern part of the Northwest Territories. The registration to Arctic Wings was cancelled on 13 September 1995.
The Otter was then sold by Randy D’Aoust to Eagle Aviation Ltd., of Pine Falls, Manitoba to whom it was registered on 13 September 1995. The Otter was based at the Silver Falls seaplane base, some 15 kms from Pine Falls, on the river connecting Lac du Bonnet with Lake Winnipeg. The Otter flew on floats from the river during the summer months and on wheel-skis from the adjacent airstrip during the winter. In April 1996 IOF went on lease to Blok Air Ltd., of Thompson, Manitoba, being registered back to Eagle Aviation on 28 October 1997 and it remained registered to them until 9 June 1999. On that day it was registered to Blue Water Aviation Services, another Silver Falls based operator, and flown south to McGregor, Texas where it was to be converted to the prototype Walter-engined Otter. Throughout this period IOF remained in basic Carter Air Services colour scheme, but with a red cheatline replacing the former black one.
This conversion involved the Otter being re-engined with a Walter M-601 turbine engine, developed and produced by the Walter Aircraft Engine Company from the Czech Republic. Eagle Aviation were the driving force behind this particular conversion and were being supported by Blue Water Aviation on the project. Having been converted at McGregor, the Otter flew back to Silver Falls in September 1999, where Blue Water Aviation did the initial float-configured flights and other testing on the aircraft as part of the certification process. This work continued into the year 2000 and the Otter later returned to Mc Gregor, Texas for further test work. It was back again at Silver Falls by September 2001.
Between December 2001 and January 2002 IOF was at the Kelowna, BC facility of AOG Air Support Inc for technology refinement and maintenance work. AOG were to become the licensed manufacturer and installation centre for the Walter Turbine Otter. With certification of the conversion achieved, C-FIOF returned to its base at Silver Falls, Manitoba. On 30 April 2002 the registration of the Otter to Blue Water Aviation Ltd was cancelled and it was registered that day to Wamair Service & Outfitting Inc, Matheson Island, Manitoba on lease from Eagle Aviation.
According to its website: “Wamair is located 220 kms north of Winnipeg at the north end of Provincial Road 234 on Matheson Island on Lake Winnipeg. A short ferry crossing takes you from the north end of the road over to Matheson Island. Wamair’s airbase is the first stop on the right as you drive off the ferry. Kathy and William Mowat operate Wamair using a Cessna 180, a Cessna 185 and Otter (C-FIOF) and a Beaver, all on floats in summer and skis in winter. William has been flying small aircraft in the wilds of Manitoba for many years. Each year he transports many canoeists to a number of popular rivers in the beautiful Canadian shield territory east of Lake Winnipeg and the surrounding area, known for its wilderness, fishing, whitewater and wildlife”. Destinations served included the Bloodvein River, Pigeon River, Berens River and Poplar River. The Otter could carry two canoes, four passengers and their gear. The Otter continued in operation on these tasks with Wamair until the registration to Wamair was cancelled on 22 March 2004. On 25 March the Otter flew back to Silver Falls, being registered that day to 3097448 Manitoba Ltd (Adventure Air), an associated company of Eagle Aviation and in May 2004 C-FIOF went on lease to Huron Air and Outfitters Inc of Armstrong, Ontario.
Huron Air were a family owned and operated air charter service based at Armstrong McKenzie Lake. They supplied air services to the outpost operators, lodge owners and canoe outfitters of Northwest Ontario as well as being available for general charter work, including support of mineral exploration camps. For some years Huron Air had flown Otter C-GOFF (65) which had been converted as a Walter Turbine Otter, until it crashed and was very badly damaged in an accident on 16 December 2003, ending its flying career with Huron Air. To replace OFF Huron took Otter IOF on lease from May 2004 and subsequently purchased IOF outright from Eagle Aviation, at which stage on 15 February 2005 C-FIOF was registered to Huron Air and Outfitters Inc. For the next few years the Otter would serve the bush country of Northwest Ontario, serving alongside Huron Air’s Beaver and Norseman.
During the late winter/early spring of March/April 2007 C-FIOF of Huron Air and C-GBTU (209), also a Walter Turbine Otter operated by Blue Water Aviation Services, were chartered by a film company and used in the making of a movie called “Whiteout”. The plot of the film was a US Marshal tracking a killer in the Antarctic, the film being shot on location on frozen Lake Manitoba, which had to make do as “Antarctica”. Both turbine Otters were painted in overall grey fuselages and red tails and carried National Science Foundation (NSF) titles. First Air L100 Hercules C-GHPW, also carrying NSF titles, put in a cameo appearance in the film as well. The film was released in 2009 but despite the participation of the Otters received poor reviews from the critics. When the filming was completed both Otters returned to their previous colour schemes, which in the case of IOF was still the basic Carter Air Services scheme of many years previous – white upper fuselage, red cheatline and all yellow lower fuselage and black tail band.
In December 2008 C-FIOF was advertised for sale, on stretched 7170 floats with beaching gear, total airframe time of 23,800 hours and with an asking price of $1,195m Canadian. The Otter however was not sold and continued in service with Huron Air throughout 2009 and 2010. It was advertised again for sale in March 2011 by which time the total time had increased to 24,234 hours and the asking price had been reduced to $940,000 Canadian, with a further reduction in the price by July 2011 down to $799,000. It remained in service with Huron Air that summer and after a long sales campaign, was eventually sold in December 2011.
The Otter was sold to an individual, who leased it to West Cariboo Air Service Inc., based at Savant Lake, Ontario but with registered offices at Thunder Bay. The Otter was noted at Sioux Lookout, Ontario in service with West Cariboo Air on 2 February 2012, although the aircraft was not registered to its new operator until 7 March 2012. It joined the West Cariboo fleet of Otters C-GKYG and C-GSUV serving the bush country of Northwest Ontario. For summer 2012 it was operated by West Cariboo Air flying on charter to Thunderhook Camps Inc based out of Armstrong, Ontario flying fishermen to the outpost camps of Thunderhook, which were spread around the Wabakimi Wilderness Provincial Park. At the end of that summer season it was repossessed by its owner, after West Cariboo Air went bankrupt.
The Otter was registered on 2 May 2013 back to Blue Water Aviation Services Ltd., of Pine Falls, Manitoba and flying out of Armstrong, Ontario for summer 2013. It was again advertised for sale in November 2013 with total time of 25,048 hours and an asking price of $1,050,000 Canadian. It was again advertised for sale through brokers Lauriault Aviation in January 2015 with the same total hours. It did not sell and in August 2016 remained registered to Blue Water Aviation Services. That same month it was still on the Lauriault Aviation website for sale, total time 25,169 hours and asking price US$870,000.
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.