DHC-3 Otter Archive Master Index

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c/n 26

3671 of RCAF, at Toronto Harbour, Ontario.
Photo: Larry Milberry © November 1973 - Karl E. Hayes Collection
3671 "Race 24" crossing finish line of Great Burlington Seaplane Race.
Photo: Gord McNulty © 15 September 1973
Check out the slide show of the rebuilding process at Kenmore Air. Scroll down for the Otter.
"Bare Bones"
Photo: Kenmore Air © 2011
N765KA making first flight after rebuild.
Photo: Kenmore Air © 2011

c/n 26

3671 • C-GVMO • N26DE

N765KA

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3671 Royal Canadian Air Force. Taken on charge 11-Dec-1953. Delivered on 31-Dec-1953 and was allocated to 408 Squadron, Rockcliffe, ON.

 Note: Into storage at No 6 Repair Depot, Trenton, ON., and Saskatoon, SK., until Nov­1966 when it re entered service with 411 Squadron at Downsview, ON.

Re entered storage at Saskatoon, May-1967 until Jun-1969 and again at Mountain View, ON between Jul­1970 and Nov-1971.

Struck off charge 10-Mar-1982.

 Entered further storage at Mountain View, ON., in Sep-1982.

Total time: 6,780 hrs at Sep-1982.

Entries preceded by a date are extracts from Canadian Department of Transport archives.

19-Nov-1982 C-GVMO allotted to DHC-3 msn 26, King’s Construction Ltd., Grimshaw, AB.

25-Nov-1982 Flight Permit to ferry Belleville, ON., to Edmonton, AB., and for a Certificate of Airworthiness test flight, valid to 25-Dec-1982.

24-Jan-1983 Temporary Certificate of Registration, valid to 24-Feb-1983.

31-JAN-1983 Flight Permit for Certificate of Airworthiness test flight issued.

04-Feb-1983 Crown Assets Disposal Corporation invoice for two Otters paid. (The other was C-GVMC).

04-Feb-1983 Application for Certificate of Registration by King’s Construction.

04-Feb-1983 Certificate of Registration issued to King’s Construction (Grimshaw) Ltd., Grimshaw, AB.

04-Feb-1983 Certificate of Airworthiness issued.

• C-GVMO John King, dba King's Construction Ltd., Grimshaw, AB. Purchased 19-Nov-1982. Regd 04-Feb-1983.

13-May-1983 Bill of Sale; John King to King’s Construction (Grimshaw) Ltd.

• C-GVMO King's Construction Ltd., Grimshaw, AB. Regd May-1983.

18-Jan-1985 Bill of Sale; King’s Construction (Grimshaw) Ltd., to Mike Hackman, Edmonton, AB (used aircraft dealer).

• C-GVMO Mike Hackman, Edmonton, AB. Regd Jan-1985.

25-Jan-1985 Bill of Sale; Mike Hackman to Dan Michel, Sterlin. AK.

• C-GVMO Cancelled from Canadian Civil Aircraft Register 25-Jan-1985.

Total time since new as recorded in Canadian Department of Transport archives.

31-Jan-1983 - 6,802 hours

04-Jan-1984 - 6,818 hours

21-Jan-1985 - 6,821 hours

• N26DE Dan Michel, Sterling, AK. Operating as All West Freight. Purchased 25th January 1985.

• N26DE Leased to Charles H. Strapp, Dillingham, AK during 1988.

Note: Dan Michel made an attempt to convert the aircraft to turbine power in 1992 by installing a 1,200 hp turbine engine, a Lycoming T­53 taken from a Grumman Mohawk. But the conversion was not certified by the FAA, and the aircraft remained stored in a hanger at Sterling, AK.

N26DE The registered owner was changed to All West Freight Inc. Regd Aug-­1997.

N26DE Airflow Leasing LLC., (Kenai AK.) Regd 11­-Feb-­2009.

N26DE Michael K. Schilling, Kenai, AK. Regd 17-­Mar­-2011.

N26DE Kenmore Air Express, Kenmore, WA. Regd 08­-Aug­-2011.

N765KA Kenmore Air Harbour Inc., Kenmore, WA. Regd 18­-Oct-­2011.

Current

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Otter 26 was delivered to the RCAF on 31 December 1953, with serial 3671. It was allocated to 408 Squadron at Rockcliffe and served with the Squadron until May 1957 although for much of that period it was based at Fort Churchill, Manitoba. In May 1955 it conducted float training at Golden Lake, Ontario after which it set off to Churchill. On 7 December 1955 it is recorded as flying Army personnel on exercises in company with the Churchill Station’s own Otter 3681. On 27 December 1955 it flew at 10,000 feet overhead Churchill to test a new American Army boot, to see how it stood up to the cold at that altitude. A note in the Fort Churchill diary for 26 June 1956 records 3671 getting airborne that day for the first time since the beginning of April. On 7 August 1956 it flew from Churchill to Station Bird, Manitoba on a medevac flight. During December 1956 the AUW modifications were incorporated at Churchill and on 2 May 1957 3671 is recorded as departing Churchill for the last time en route to Toronto.

Its next posting, in July 1957, was to 111 Communications & Rescue Flight at Winnipeg. It is mentioned in the Flight’s records on 9 January 1958 searching for a downed Stinson aircraft, together with the Flight’s other Otter 3679 (37). On 20 January 1958 two of the Flight’s C-47s and one Otter were dispatched to The Pas, Manitoba to set up a search headquarters for another Stinson which had gone missing. The Otter located the Stinson on Kiskitto Lake three days later. January 1958 was a busy time for 111 C&R Flight as on the 26th of the month two C-47s and the two Otters (3671 and 3679) deployed to Fort Churchill to search for a missing Found 100 aircraft CF-IOO.

Other rescues on which 3671 was engaged included the search for Piper Super Cub N9929D in the Lac Seul area during March 1960, in company with Otter 3694, three of the 111 C&R C-47s and no less than thirteen C-47s from 2 AOS at Winnipeg and in May 1960 on “SAR Harrison”, the search for Piper PA-20 CF-HJH overdue on a flight from Flin Flon to Tartan Lake. Other Otters taking part in this search were 3679 and 3694, also of 111 C&R Flight, and CF-KTI of Hudson Bay Air Transport.  In July 1961 Prime Minister Diefenbaker was to visit Yellowknife and the Snare River area. A crew from 111 C&R Flight travelled to Vancouver to pick up 9420 from 442 Squadron at Sea Island, described as being a “VIP Otter”. This Otter was used to transport the Prime Minister and his wife from Yellowknife to Snare River, with 3671 present at Yellowknife to support the visit. 3671 continued in service with 111 C&R Flight until October 1962, when it was ferried to 6 Repair Depot at Trenton and put into storage as a reserve aircraft. In October 1964 it was moved to storage in Saskatoon where it remained until 8 November 1966, when it re-entered active service with 411 Squadron at Downsview.

In March 1967 it returned to Saskatoon to storage, until allocated to 424 Squadron, Trenton in June 1969 with whom it served until July 1970 when it was again put into storage, this time in the Mountain View, Ontario depot. In November 1971 it was allocated to 400 Squadron at Downsview with whom it was to serve for the next eleven years. In July 1974 it undertook a visit to NORAD at Duluth, Minnesota routing Downsview-Sudbury-Sault Ste.Marie-Duluth and returning via Sault Ste.Marie and Sudbury to its Downsview base. In March 1981, in company with Otter 9404, it undertook a long-range training flight from Downsview to Myrtle Beach AFB, South Carolina, fuel stopping at Chase City, West Virginia on the southbound sector. As crew member on the flight, Clive Cozens recounts: “On arrival at the small airport at Chase City, it transpired that the airstrip had gone out of business recently, so there was no fuel available and the Otters were stuck there for some days until the pilots arranged for a fuel bowser to come from Fort Bragg. With our planes filled, we could bid adieu. We had become celebrities of sorts. We were the stranded Canuck airmen. People came to see our bush planes. Word spread that we were leaving (to the economic dismay of the local motel and diner). Cars and people lined the road beside the defunct airport to watch us take off, a major event for the local populace”. The Otters fuel stopped at Fort Bragg, North Carolina on the way home from Myrtle Beach AFB.

Back at Downsview 3671 continued flying for 400 Squadron, mostly local area work around southern Ontario, until it was withdrawn from Canadian military service during 1982.  3671 was one of seven Otters advertised for sale in September 1982 by the Crown Assets Disposal Corporation. The seven Otters were located at the AMDU Detachment, Mountain View, Ontario and 3671 was advertised as having 6,780 hours on the airframe. The buyer was King’s Construction Ltd of Grimshaw, Alberta to whom the Otter was registered as C-GVMO on 19 November 1982, the purchase price having been $52,650. On 25 November 1982 a ferry permit was issued for the delivery flight from the Mountain View depot to Edmonton. 3671 was one of five ex Canadian military Otters whose purchase had been brokered by Mike Hackman Aircraft Sales of Edmonton. With a crew of friends he went to pick them up at the depot and as he says “We caused quite a stir, five Otters arriving in formation at Edmonton”. Their routing had been Mountain View-Port Huron-Battle Creek, Michigan-La Crosse, Wisconsin-Pierre, South Dakota-Glasgow, Montana-Edmonton City Airport, a three day trip.

C-GVMO remained registered to Kings Construction Ltd., for just over two years, during which time it saw very little flying, being mostly parked at Edmonton. By Bill of Sale 24 January 1985 the Otter was sold to Dan Michel of Sterling, Alaska, to whom the Otter was registered as N26DE, the Canadian registration being cancelled on 28 January 1985. The Canadian registration was removed from the aircraft and N26DE applied with black tape for the ferry flight from Edmonton to Anchorage. A Certificate of Airworthiness was issued to Dan Michel on 6 February 1985, the Otter’s total time at that stage being 6,837 hours. The increase of 57 hours in the airframe time since its sale by the Canadian military mostly comprised its ferry from Ontario to Edmonton, and from there to Anchorage.

Dan Michel’s company was All West Freight, based at Sterling, Alaska which used the Otter to serve the Kenai area, flying freight and fish around south-west Alaska and servicing a gold mine at Flat, Alaska. From late 1988 the Otter was leased to a Charles H. Strapp and based out of Dillingham, Alaska. It was transferred to Mr Strapp by Bill of Sale 30 August 1988, and the lease to him continued during 1989 and 1990, being returned to All West Freight in 1991. In common with many other operators, Dan Michel and his company All West Freight found the Otter somewhat underpowered for the demanding role of a bush aircraft serving the Alaskan outback and he set about doing something to resolve the problem. In late 1989 he had purchased Otter N338D (338) which at one stage had been converted by the installation of a 1,200 horse power Wright Cyclone R-1820 engine taken from a B-17 bomber. That certainly should have given sufficient power but unfortunately the conversion had not been certified by the FAA, and the original P&W R-1340 engine had been re-installed on the Otter. N338D crashed at Sterling in early 1991 and was damaged.

As a replacement N26DE, on its return from lease in 1991, was taken out of service and work commenced at Sterling in converting the Otter with a 1,200 horse power turbine engine, a Lycoming T-53, taken from a Grumman Mohawk aircraft. This is the same engine which powers the Huey helicopter. The T-53 was eventually installed in N26DE but Mr Michel was unable to get the conversion certified by the FAA. All the time while this conversion work was ongoing, the Otter had not flown, but remained registered to its previous lessee, Charles Strapp. By Bill of Sale 19 December 1996 he transferred title back to All West Freight who on 6 May 1997 applied for registration of the Otter, when Dan Michel incorporated the business.  All the while the Otter languished at Sterling. Even though no crash report appears on the NTSB website, at some stage N26DE was badly damaged at Sterling. The forward fuselage  was crushed and the cockpit section torn off and all that remained intact was the rear fuselage and tail section. Not having had much success with its Otter operations, All West Freight Inc continued in business with Cessna 207s and a Short Skyvan, also acquiring a C-123 Provider. The company moved to a new airfield at Delta Junction in 1997 but the two damaged Otters N338D and N26DE remained at Sterling.

In May 2005 the remains of Otter N26DE together with Otter N338D were sold by All West Freight Inc to a Mike Spisak of Kotzebue, Alaska. The sale price for N26DE was $125,000. Both of the Otters were loaded onto trucks and transported from Sterling to nearby Kenai, where they were deposited at a hangar owned by Craig Schweizer at the Kenai Airport. By Bill of Sale dated 9 May 2005 title to Otter 26 was transferred from All West Freight Inc to Ascention LLC., a company owned by Craig Schweizer. Noted during a visit to Kenai in July 2007 were Otters N103SY (296), which was active with Craig Schweizer’s company Mavrik Aire and N338D (338) and C-FQOS (398) which were in varying states of rebuild in the hangar, and the remains of N26DE (26) which were on a trailer outside the hangar. N338D was subsequently restored to flying condition and sold.

In September 2007 the FAA closed down Mavrik Aire and its Otter N103SY (296) was sold. After that Craig Schweizer busied himself with the Otter rebuild projects in his hangar. Later that year the rear fuselage and tail of # 26 were used in the rebuild of #398 and were mated to its fuselage and wings. By Bill of Sale 5 October 2007 Ascention LLC., transferred title of Otter 26 to Don Reesor, who by Bill of Sale dated 30 November 2007 transferred title to his company Airflow Leasing LLC., of Cheyenne, Wyoming, although the Otter remained in an uncompleted state in the hangar at Kenai, the rear half of the composite rebuild of 398 and 26. On 11 February 2009 Airflow leasing LLC., were registered as owners of Otter N26DE on the FAA Civil Aircraft Register.

During 2007 / 2008 Craig Schweizer had also done work outside of his hangar in endeavouring to create a floatplane basin. He claimed to have the exclusive use of what were in fact common areas of the airport, also used by other hangar owners. This put him into conflict with the airport management company, Salamatof Air Park Subdivision Owners Inc. A  court case arising from this property dispute ensued, which Mr Schweizer lost and he ended up owing $85,000 in damages and attorneys fees to Salamatof, following a court judgement against him in October 2008. In August 2009 a mortgage holder foreclosed against Mr Schweizer and took his hangar. At that stage Salamatof seized the Otter that had been in the hangar as security for the money that was owed to them under the court judgement. A problem that they encountered however was that the Otter did not have any serial plate on it, nor any identifying marks nor any paperwork.

Salamatof claimed that the Otter they had seized was Otter 398, that it was owned by Craig Schweizer and that they were entitled to seize and sell it for the money they were due by him. Mr Schweizer on the other hand maintained that the Otter was 26 and that it was owned by Don Reesor and his company Airflow Leasing LLC., and that therefore the Otter could not be seized. Craig Schweizer, Don Reesor and Airflow Leasing started court proceedings against Salamatof in the Superior Court for the State of Alaska, Third Judicial District in Kenai, in which they claimed a declaration that the Otter was owned by Airflow Leasing and an order stopping Salamatof from selling it. After a lengthy court hearing in which evidence was given about these various Otters, the court gave its judgement on 12 April 2010. The court found that the aircraft which had been seized by Salamatof was Otter 398, which in the course of its rebuild had the tail and rear fuselage of Otter 26 attached to it. The court held that Mr Schweizer was the owner of 398 and that he was not allowed to designate it as number 26 just because parts of 26 had been used in the rebuild. The court ordered that the Otter be sold by the Sheriff to raise money so that Craig Schweizer’s debt of $85,000 could be paid and that the balance of the sale price be paid into court, so that the court could decide who was entitled to the money.

After that court judgement, in order to avoid a forced sale of the Otter by the Sheriff, in June 2010 Don Reesor paid Salamatof their $85,000 and took possession of the Otter. In August 2010 he advertised the Otter for sale, quoting an airframe time of 6,800 hours (when it had been sold by the Canadian military in September 1982 it had 6,780 hours) and an asking price of US$650,000 without engine. It was described as a “Vazar conversion minus engine, aircraft rebuilt and recertified”, with 80% of the fuselage re-skinned. It was in green primer and “ready for paint”. A buyer however did not materialise at that time. As well as advertising the Otter for sale, Mr Reesor took a number of other steps. He contacted the FAA who gave him permission to designate the Otter as 26 and to install a replacement manufacturers identity plate on the aircraft. He also contacted Viking Aircraft (who had acquired ownership of the Otter programme from DHC) and they provided him with an official plate for the aircraft. He also purchased Otter 398 from Mr Schweizer. He put the official identity plate on the Otter and by this means the composite aircraft officially became serial 26 (even though most of it comprised 398) and Mr Reesor now had the paperwork to prove it.

In September 2010 Mr Schweizer filed a motion to the Court for relief against the ownership decision. He argued that the court was wrong to have identified the Otter as 398 and that this function was reserved to the FAA and he referred to the FAA letter allowing the Otter to be designated 26. On 29 October 2010 the court gave its decision, rejecting these arguments. At that stage Mr Schweizer, Mr Reesor and Airflow Leasing appealed the court’s decision to a higher court, to the Supreme Court of Alaska, presumably hoping to get back the $85,000 paid to Salamatof. It would take quite some time for the appeal to be heard and in the meantime developments continued with the Otter.

By Bill of Sale dated 7 January 2011 Airflow Leasing sold the Otter to Michael Schilling of Kenai, an industrialist and aircraft owner, who has traded and owned Otters over the years, and on 17 March 2011 Michael Schilling was registered as owner of Otter N26DE, serial number 26, on the FAA Civil Aircraft Register. In May 2011 he advertised the Otter for sale. It was now described as a “Vazar conversion with time expired -34 core”. On this occasion a buyer was found and in July 2011 the aircraft was sold to Kenmore Air Harbor Inc., of Kenmore / Seattle, Washington.

What in effect still amounted to a rebuild project, the composite partially completed Otter 398 with the tail and rear fuselage of 26, although now officially designated as being Otter 26, were loaded into a container at Kenai and shipped south to the Kenmore Air Harbor base on Lake Washington, Kenmore / Seattle during July 2011 and work started on a complete rebuild. On 8 August 2011 Kenmore Air Harbor Inc., reserved registration N74KA, although this reservation was later changed to N765KA. Work on the project continued from July to December 2011 at Kenmore, including the installation of panoramic windows and completion of the Vazar conversion. The Otter, as serial 26, was registered to Kenmore Air Harbour Inc., on 18 October 2011 as N765KA, as work on the project was nearing completion. The Otter entered service with Kenmore Air in late December 2011, alongside its existing fleet of six turbine Otters, painted in full Kenmore colours.

Kenmore Air’s in-flight “Harbors” magazine of January 2012 introduced the new member of its fleet. “If you have just flown on a Kenmore Otter and noticed that the tail number was N765KA, you have just flown on our newest turbine Otter”. The article explained that the “battered shell of an airplane” had arrived in a container from Kenai, Alaska the previous July and continued: “To be sure, there are faster ways to grow a fleet. Transforming this tired, worn airframe, which hadn’t flown since the late 1980s, into the finest Otter in airline service anywhere in the world, has taken 5,400 man hours of highly skilled work by the best crew in the business”. The article explained that” most of the metal skin had been replaced, a new instrument panel installed, Pratt & Whitney turboprop engine put on and the cabin outfitted with a beautiful leather interior”.

Throughout 2012 and 2013 N765KA flew on Kenmore’s scheduled services linking Seattle with Vancouver Island. It was still doing so in September 2013 when Mr Schweizer’s appeal was heard by the Supreme Court of Alaska, who rejected the appeal and affirmed the lower court’s decision, thus bringing to an end this lengthy litigation concerning the Otter.  N765KA is mentioned in a Cadors report on 30 July 2014 from Seattle Kenmore Harbour to Victoria Harbour, flew trans-border without an active flight plan.  It continues to this day as an active member of Kenmore Air’s fleet.

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.