VH-EAX • VH-SBR • CF-YLZ
• VH-EAX Qantas Empire Airways Ltd., on 25th February 1958. Operated in PNG.
Note; Operated on wheels in Papua New Guinea having taken over from the Company’s Beavers.
• VH-SBR Trans Australia Airlines (TAA), 01-Sep-1960. Continued to operate in PNG. Retired from TAA service 31-Oct-1966.
Note: Named "Kundiawa".
Accident: Aiome, PNG. 15th February 1965, The aircraft crash landed in a swamp, some thirty miles from Madang. Captain Partridge was at the controls and fortunately there were no injuries. After some time it was recovered by RAAF Iroquois, repaired and returned to service.
• VH-SBR Hawker de Havilland Australia. Circa Nov-1966.
• Un regd Bannock Aerospace Ltd., Toronto, ON. Purchased Jan-1969.
• CF-YLZ North Canada Air Ltd., (Norcanair), Prince Albert, SK. Based La Ronge, SK. Regd Mar-1969.
Accident: Nickel Lake, SK. 06-Jul-1970. The externally loaded aircraft began to sink in the air after take-off, landed hard in the water ahead damaging the float struts. The Otter came to rest in shallow water, partly sub-merged. Repaired and returned to service.
• C-FYLZ North Canada Air Ltd., (Norcanair), Prince Albert, SK. Canx 13-Jun-1983.
• C-FYLZ Dawn Air (559397 Sask Ltd), La Ronge, SK. Regd 23-Jun-1986. Canx 17-Feb-1989.
Accident: Un-named lake in Saskatchewan. 02-Mar-1988. On the return leg of the first flight of the day, the pilot decided to check out a lake he intended to use later in the day. After an aerial inspection circuit, he landed the wheel-ski equipped Otter on what appeared to be a suitable area. On the landing roll, the aircraft travelled down a snow drift, the right ski sank in soft snow and then caught on a hard drift. The Otter nosed down, the right landing gear failed and the right wing was damaged.
• C-FYLZ Osprey Wings, La Ronge, SK. Based Otter Lake, SK. Regd 16-Oct-1992. Canx 23-Sep-1998.
Accident: Southend, SK. 03-Jul-1997. The float-equipped Otter was on final approach to land on a bay in gusting wind conditions and suffered damage to wing tip and float struts.
• C-FYLZ Nueltin Lake Air Service Ltd., Alonsa, MB. Based Nueltin Lake, NT. Regd 23-Sep-1998. Canx 15-Nov-2005.
• C-FYLZ Mattice Lake Outfitters Ltd., Armstrong, ON. Regd 05-Jan-2006. Canx 19-Apr-2006.
• C-FYLZ Wabakimi Air Ltd., Armstrong, ON. Regd 19-Apr-2006, Canx 16-May-2012.
• C-FYLZ West Caribou Air Service Inc., Thunder Bay, ON. Based Savant Lake, ON. Regd 16-May-2012.
• C-FYLZ Wabakimi Air Ltd., Armstrong, ON. Regd 02-Jul-2013.
• Current •
Otter 247 was delivered to Qantas Empire Airways Ltd., on 25th February 1958, registered VH- EAX. As explained in relation to Otter 241, this was one of four Otters delivered to the Australian national airline for services in the Territory of Papua New Guinea (PNG). The Otter was shipped to Australia, where it was re-assembled at Bankstown, NSW., and joined the Qantas fleet on 27th May 1958 named “Kokopo”. VH-EAX was one of the three landplane Otters, with accommodation for 14 passengers and one pilot. The landplane Otters were based at Lae and operated services into the highlands.
With effect from 1st September 1960, the four Qantas Otters were taken over by Trans Australian Airlines (TAA), re-painted into TAA colours and re-registered. VH-EAX became VH-SBR with TAA and was re-named “Kundiawa”. At the commencement of TAA's operations, the landplane Otter operated flights LW70 / 71 and 72 / 73 between Wau, Bulolo and Lae. VH-SBR continued on TAA's 'Sunbird' services within PNG until an accident on 15th February 1965, when it crash landed in a swamp at Aiome, some thirty miles from Madang. Captain Partridge was at the controls and fortunately there were no injuries. Having remained in the swamp for some months, on 3rd June '65 it was lifted out by a Royal Australian Air Force UH-1 Iroquois helicopter. The damaged Otter was repaired and resumed flying with TAA on 12th August 1965.
VH-SBR continued in service with TAA until it was retired on 31st October 1966. On 12th December 1966 it was ferried from Lae to Bankstown airfield near Sydney where it was put into storage, awaiting sale. Here it joined VH-SBT (258) and both Otters were traded in to Hawker de Havilland against new DHC-6 Twin Otters. Hawker de Havilland in turn sold the two Otters to Bannock Aerospace Ltd of Toronto, VH-SBR being sold in January 1969. Bannock Aerospace sold the Otter in March 1969 to North Canada Air Ltd., (Norcanair) of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan and marks CF-YLZ were allocated. The Otter was noted at Bankstown carrying these marks in April '69, prior to the long ferry flight to Edmonton, Alberta. The story is told that on the sector from Honolulu to San Francisco, which took 22 hours, a TWA crew following the same route in their jet airliner spoke to the lone pilot on HF radio, and were surprised to hear the same fellow still airborne the next day while they were on their return flight to Honolulu. In any event, the ferry flight was successfully completed and after overhaul at Edmonton, Alberta. CF-YLZ entered service with Norcanair.
The Otter was to serve with Norcanair for 14 years, mostly based at La Ronge, Saskatchewan. During this period, it crashed once, at Nickel Lake, Saskatchewan on 6th July 1970. At a height of 150 feet after take-off from the lake, the heavily loaded Otter, which was also carrying an externally loaded canoe, began to sink. The pilot increased power until full throttle was applied. After judging that there was insufficient altitude to clear the trees, he landed on the remaining water ahead. The right float struck the water first, collapsing the struts. The aircraft swung and in the ensuing skid collapsed the left struts. The Otter came to rest in shallow water, partly sub-merged. The accident report concluded that the pilot had not assessed the effect of the terrain on the wind in the take-off area. The wind was 90 degrees to the take-off run and would have produced a downdraft in the lee of a ridge to the windward side of the lake. The Otter was repaired, re-registered C-FYLZ and continued to serve Norcanair until June 1983, at a time when Norcanair were disposing of their bush fleet to concentrate on larger aircraft. The Otter was sold to Dawn Air (559397 Sask Ltd), also based at La Ronge in 1985. It joined their fleet of Beavers and a Twin Otter, still painted in Norcanair colours but carrying Dawn Air titles.
While flying for Dawn Air, YLZ had an accident at an un-named lake in Saskatchewan on 2nd March 1988. On the return leg of the first flight of the day, the pilot decided to check out a lake he intended to use later in the day. After an aerial inspection circuit, he landed the wheel-ski equipped Otter on what appeared to be a suitable area. On the landing roll, the aircraft travelled down a snow drift, the right ski sank in soft snow and then caught on a hard drift. The Otter nosed down, the right landing gear failed and the right wing was damaged. Soft snow had covered hard snow drifts which, as a result, were not visible from the air. That was the end of the Otter's career with Dawn Air which, in any event, ceased trading later that year.
After repairs, in October 1992 C-FYLZ was sold to Osprey Wings Ltd., of Missinipe, Saskatchewan. Here it joined Otter C-FXRI (258), the one time VH-SBT, the two surviving ex Australian Otters again united in the same fleet, based at the appropriately named Otter Lake at Missinipe. YLZ was involved in another incident on 3rd July 1997. The float-equipped Otter was on final approach to land on a bay near the community of Southend, Saskatchewan. The pilot was the sole occupant and the aircraft was empty. The Otter was landing in gusting wind conditions with a 90-degree crosswind from the left. When fifteen feet above the water surface, the Otter encountered a downdraft and dropped abruptly to strike the water. The left float failed ahead of the forward float attachment. The pilot pulled the aircraft back into the air, regained control and landed further down the bay. YLZ came to rest on the surface of the lake, with the left wing tip and nose of the aircraft touching the water.
That accident ended YLZ's career with Osprey Wings.
On 23rd September 1998, following repairs, C-FYLZ was registered to Nueltin Lake Air Service Ltd., of Nueltin Lake, Manitoba, which was affiliated with Nueltin Flying Lodge, joining their fleet of single Cessnas and Norseman C-FSAP. During the summer months it serviced the lodge, until put up for sale after the summer 2002 season. It was advertised for sale with a total time of 18,800 hours, on EDO 7170 floats, with an asking price of $675,000 Canadian. It was “recently restored, with new paint and interior”.
To be updated.
Full history up to 2005 courtesy of Karl E Hayes © from DHC-3 Otter - A History (CD-ROM 2005)