DHC-3 Otter Archive Master Index

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c/n 254

FAP-303 at Tocumen Air Base.
Photo: LAAN © March 1978 - Karl E. Hayes Collection

c/n 254

57-6121 • FAP-303 • HP-1070 • N254A

N254AW

x

• 57-6121 United States Army. Delivered 12-Apr-1958. Designated as U-1A..

Initially delivered to Addison, TX., .for radio work to be done by Collins Radio Corporation.

Jan-1962. Attached to the 110th Aviation Company, Boscomantico AAF, Verona, Italy.

Jan-1963. Headquarters Company, 3rd Support Command. Gibbs Barracks, Frankfurt. Germany.

Mar-1964 To depot level maintenance, perhaps at Coleman Barracks, Mannheim. and transport back to the United States.

Feb-1966. Joined the Inter American Geodetic Survey (IAGS) based at Howard AFB, Panama, conducting survey work in Central and South America.

May-1970. Returned to Panama for storage.

Nov-1970 Passed to Fort Eustis, VA., where it served as an operational support airlift aircraft.

August 1972. To Panama, entrusted to the Logistics Support Command. Actual location unknown.

• FAP-303 Sep-1972. Transferred to the Fuerza Aérea Panameña (FAP) under a Military Aid Program of the US government. based at Tocumen Air Base, co-located with Tocumen International Airport, near Panama City.

• HP-1070 Patricio Janson, Panama City. Date unknown.

• N254A Aviation One Inc., Cincinnati, OH. Regd May-1986

Total time: 4,072 hours May-1986.

Airworthiness date. 03-Nov-1986. Standard – Normal.

• N254A Lyle E. Goodwin of Titusville, FL. Feb-1987.

• N254A Rainbow King Lodge Inc., Iliamna, AK. Regd Feb-1989.

• N254AW Thomas J.& Katie J. Prijatel, dba., Alaskan Wilderness Outfitting Company Inc., Cordova, AK Regd 31-May-1991.

Current

Otter 254 was delivered to the United States Army on 12th April 1958 with serial 57-6121 (tail number 76121). It was one of sixteen Army Otters delivered from Downsview to Addison, Texas for work to be done on them by Collins Radio Corporation. Most of these Otters were then delivered to Europe, including 76121 which by January 1962 was attached to the 110th Aviation Company, Boscomantico AAF., Verona in Italy where it continued to serve until January 1963. It then joined the Headquarters Company, 3rd Support Command until March 1964 when it went in for depot level maintenance and transport back to the United States. In February 1966 it joined the Inter American Geodetic Survey (IAGS) based at Howard AFB., Panama, conducting survey work in Central and South America until May 1970 when it was returned to Panama and put into storage there.

In November 1970 76121 was taken out of storage and flown from Panama to Fort Eustis, Virginia where it served as an operational support airlift aircraft, still in the red/white colour scheme it had served in with the IAGS. It remained based at Fort Eustis until August 1972 when it returned to Panama, entrusted to the Logistics Support Command. The following month, September '72. it was one of five ex US Army Otters transferred to the Fuerza Aérea Panameña (FAP) under a Military Aid Program of the US government, taking serial FAP-303. The FAP Otters were based at Tocumen Air Base, co-located with Tocumen International Airport, near Panama City. FAP-303 was the only Otter of the five to survive its military service in Panama, and was registered HP-1070 to Patricio Janson, Panama City. It was then sold in the United States, being registered N254A to Aviation One Inc., of Cincinnati, Ohio in May 1986. It had 4,072 hours total time on the airframe at that stage. In February 1987 it was registered to Lyle E. Goodwin of Titusville, Florida and used for skydiving. In February 1989 it was acquired by Rainbow King Lodge Inc., of Iliamna, Alaska and used on wheels to transport their fishing lodge guests.

In May 1991 the Otter was purchased by Thomas J. Prijatel for use by Alaskan Wilderness Outfitting Company Inc., of Cordova, Alaska and the registration changed to N254AW. The Otter was put on floats and joined the company's fleet of a Beech 18 on floats, Beaver and several Cessnas. The aircraft were used to fly guests to fishing lodges, outpost camps, floating cabins and also on rafting trips. The company also ran a unique operation, offering guests a week long fishing  tour taking in most of Alaska. The Otter and the Beech 18 would set off with a total complement of six guests, two pilots and a cook. The itinerary would be decided as the trip progressed - “Each night will be spent comfortably camping in a different section of the State amidst scenery you will long remember. Around the campfire each evening, the next day's itinerary will be mapped out - the Yukon River, the Brooks Range, the Kobuk River, Bristol Bay, Lake Iliamna, the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes, the Alaska Range, Wrangell Mountains, Prince William Sound, the Kenai Peninsula - our idea is to get you out to see the Alaskan wilderness that few people get to visit”.

These activities took place during the June/September summer season. During the winter months, the fleet headed south, to Lakeport on Clear Lake in northern California. There the aircraft were maintained, attended sportshows promoting the Alaskan fishing trips and were also available for seaplane training, the Beaver at $250 per hour, the Otter at $350 and the Twin Beech at $375. This pattern of operations continued for some years, until the around-Alaska trips and the winter deployments to California were discontinued. The Otter was then based at Cordova and used to service lodges and fishing camps from there only during the summer months, and was put into storage during the winter. It came to grief on 7th September 2001, while on a flight from one of the lodges located one hundred miles south-east of Cordova, flying back to Cordova carrying eight guests from the lodge and the pilot. The Otter was on wheels.

While in level cruise flight, a loud bang was heard and the engine began to run rough and lose power. Smoke entered the cabin and oil pressure was lost. The pilot made a forced landing in a marshy, muskeg-covered area at Controller Bay near the Bering River Flats, fifty three miles east of Cordova. The Otter nosed over and sustained substantial damage to the right wing, engine firewall and empennage. The pilot sustained minor injuries but remarkably none of the passengers were injured. The emergency was responded to by a United States Coast Guard HH-60 Jayhawk helicopter, based at Cordova. It homed in on the ELT signal of the downed Otter. A private aircraft flying in the vicinity also assisted, spotted the crash site and provided the Coast Guard crew with the latitude and longitude. Both the Jayhawk and the private aircraft landed near the over-turned Otter. The Jayhawk airlifted six of the nine on board the Otter to hospital in Cordova and the private aircraft took the other three. Having lain in the bog for a few weeks, the Otter was airlifted by a Bell 205 helicopter to Big Lake, north of Anchorage, where it was repaired. It then re-entered service with Alaskan Wilderness Outfitting Company.

Full history up to 2005 courtesy of Karl E Hayes © from DHC-3 Otter - A History (CD-ROM 2005)