• 57-6117 United States Army. Delivered 14-Feb-1958 with serial 57-6117.
Initially to Addison, TX., for installation of radio equipment by the Collins Radio Corporation.
Date unknown. 937th Engineer Company (AVN), Panama Canal Zone, which was engaged on the Inter American Geodetic Survey (IAGS). It operated on survey duties throughout Central and South America.
1964. Assigned to the Peru Project of the IAGS, based al Lima-Callao Airfield.
Accident: Rioja Airstrip NE Peru. 20-Aug-1964. After a request to assist in the search for a missing Peruvian AF Allouette helicopter, the aircraft flew into the top of a hill at a height of 2,500ft hitting a tree which caused it to twist around before crashing and landing on its back. It burned out on the ground. Further information in history below.
Otter 243 was delivered to the United States Army on 14th February 1958 with serial 57-6117 (tail number 76117). It was one of sixteen Army Otters which were delivered from Downsview to Addison, Texas for work to be done on them by Collins Radio Corporation. Although most of these Otters were then assigned to Europe, four were assigned to Panama, including 76117 which went to the 937th Engineer Company (AVN), which was engaged on the Inter American Geodetic Survey (IAGS) in Central and South America. During 1964, 76117 was assigned to the Peru Project of the IAGS, based al Lima-Callao Airfield. There was also a Cessna L-19 and two Hiller H-23F helicopters on strength.
The purpose of the Project was to survey and map the entire of Peru. The aircraft were used to locate suitable peaks for tri-angulation stations and to move equipment and personnel back and forth, supporting the field engineers in the jungle, the mountains and the desert along the northern coast of Peru.
On 2nd August 1964 a Peruvian Air Force Alouette II helicopter went missing. The United States Embassy in Peru requested assistance from the IAGS to search for the missing Alouette, and on 7th August the Otter was flown from Lima to Rioja, in the north-eastern part of the country. The pilot of the Otter, Major Richard F. Conner and his crew chief David Johnston participated in the search, flying search patterns each day until 4.50pm on 20th August '64 when 76117 crashed into a jungle-covered hill, some 2,500 feet high, shortly after take-off from the Rioja airstrip. Sadly, the two on board were killed. There were no witnesses, but one of the scenarios for the accident, based on the scene and wreckage, was that the pilot had flown very low over the top of the hill in an effort to view something on the ground, when the left wing tip contacted the branch of a large tree. The Otter was turned violently to the left and crashed into the trees in a nose low attitude that caused it to invert and land on its back, upside down, with the engine uphill.
The Otter had caught fire on impact and the engine had rolled downhill through the cockpit as it burned, until it was stopped by the tail section and trees. Only the tail section remained somewhat intact. It was a tragic end indeed to this rescue mission. History does not relate what became of the Alouette helicopter they were searching for.
Major Richard F. Conner
Full history up to 2005 courtesy of Karl E Hayes © from DHC-3 Otter - A History (CD-ROM 2005)