UB-652 • 4652 • C-FINA • SE-KPB • G-GKPB
• UB-652 Union of Burma Air Force. Delivered 06-Dec-1958.
• 4652 Later re-named Myanmar Air Force. Post Jun-1989.
• Un-regd Trevor Ross, Vancouver. BC. Arrived in Canada Dec-1989.
• C-FINA Vardax Inc., Calgary, AB. Regd 28-Jun-1990. Canx 29-Jun-1990 for administration purposes.
• SE-KPB Tammert Aero AB., Kiruna, Sweden. Regd 07-August 1990
Total time, 3,300hrs.
• C-GKPB Loon Air, Fort Smith, NT. Purchased Mar-1993. Regd 20-May-1993.
Accident Villeneuve, AB, 22-May-1993. Crashed on its first test flight after re- assembly following its return from Sweden. Shortly after take off, the aircraft entered a left turn from which there was no recovery, the angle of bank gradually increasing until it was more than 60 degrees. The Otter then descended until its left wingtip touched the ground in a wheatfield on the airport. It cartwheeled for 90 metres before coming to rest upside down. The two pilots including Billy Bourque, the owner of Loon Air. were killed and the passenger seriously injured. The controls to the left aileron had been mis-rigged. The aircraft was initially described as destroyed, but see the history below.
• C-GKPB Trevor Ross, Vancouver, BC., purchased the wreckage, and stored it in the Aeroflite hangar at Vancouver, although little more than the rear fuselage remained intact.
Note: Rebuilt at Courtenay, BC., by International Aero Products Inc by 2005 using parts from c/n 350.
Power plant: Converted to Pezetel power ASZ-621R-M18.
Modifications: Baron STOL wing modifications and put on Wipline 8100 floats.
• C-GKPB Canx 04-May-2005 and deleted 02-Jun-2005 on export to USA.
• N6868B Kirk M.Thomas, Ketchikan, AK. Regd 15-Jun-2005.
Airworthiness date: 28-Jun-2005.
• N6868B Leased to Pro-Mech Air Ltd., Ketchikan, AK.
Incident: 28-Jul-2005 Engine fire on flight from Misty Fjord National Monument to Ketchikan caused the pilot to carry out an emergency landing on the water. Full story below.
• N6868B Returned to Kirk M. Thomas, trading as Gateway Aviation. Summer 2006.
• N6868B Doyon Air Transport LLC., Ketchikan, AK. Regd 07-Dec-2007.
• N6868B Leased to Misty Fjord Air (Alaska). Regd May-2008.
• Current •
Otter 274 was delivered to the Union of Burma Air Force on 6th December 1958 with serial UB652. It was one of three Otters delivered that month (273, 274 and 277), all three being packed into crates and shipped to Burma, where they were re-assembled and entered service. As explained in relation to 273, the Burmese Otters were re-serialled, UB652 becoming 4652, and being one of the six Burmese Otters returned to Vancouver by December 1989.
274 was rebuilt at the Aeroflite Industries hangar at the Vancouver International Airport and painted in an attractive yellow and white colour scheme. In June 1990 it was registered C-FINA to Vardax Inc, Calgary in connection with its rebuild. The Otter was sold to Tammert Aero AB of Kiruna, Sweden and registered to them as SE-KPB in August 1990, although that registration had been painted on the aircraft at Vancouver as early as 6th June 1990. It then set off from Vancouver for the long ferry flight across Canada and the Atlantic, staging via Greenland and Iceland to its new home in Kiruna in northern Sweden.
Tammert Aero was the largest pure bush-plane operator in Sweden, and as well as the Otter flew a Cessna 185 SE-EHA and a Beaver SE-KKR, all on wheel-skis or floats, depending on the season. The Otter when they received it was in mint condition after its rebuild, with 3,300 hours total time. It was used much like Otters are in Canada, to fly tourists, fishermen, hunters etc and also cargo from Kiruna to several field bases operated by Tammert Aero around Lapland. Having flown in northern Sweden for two and a half years, the Otter was sold to Loon Air of Fort Smith, Northwest Territories in March 1993. It was shipped back to Canada in a crate, being taken to Villeneuve Airfield, Alberta for re-assembly. It was re-registered in May 1993 to Loon Air as C-GKPB, retaining the last three letters of its Swedish marks.
Sadly, the Otter was reported as destroyed on 22nd May 1993 at Villeneuve on its first test flight after re- assembly, which had taken ten days. Shortly after take off, the aircraft entered a left turn from which there was no recovery, the angle of bank gradually increasing until it was more than 60 degrees. The Otter then descended until its left wingtip touched the ground in a wheatfield on the airport. It cartwheeled for 90 metres before coming to rest upside down. The two pilots were killed and the passenger seriously injured. The controls to the left aileron had been mis-rigged. One of the pilots killed was Billy Bourque, the owner of Loon Air. The other pilot was part owner of Villeneuve Aviation, who had re-assembled the Otter. The funeral service at St.Albert for Mr.Bourque, a very popular local aviator, was described as a “gathering of Western Canadian bush pilots”. The wreckage of the Otter was purchased by Mr Trevor Ross, who had imported the former Burmese Otters back to Canada, and stored in the Aeroflite hangar at Vancouver, although little more than the rear fuselage remained intact.
It transpires, however, that the aircraft was not in fact destroyed in the crash of May 1993. The Otter was rebuilt during the early part of 2005 at Courtenay, BC by International Aero Products Inc. It appears however that although carrying the serial number 274, the majority of the aircraft used in this rebuild, including the fuselage and wings, came from Otter serial 350, one of the former Ethiopian Army Otters imported into Canada which had been lying in Vancouver for some years. The original number 274 was very badly damaged in the May 1993 crash, with little more than the tail section surviving that accident. The Otter currently carrying the serial 274 appears to be very much a ‘composite aircraft’ created from both the original 274 and 350. In any event, the Otter was rebuilt in this manner at Courtenay and during the rebuild converted to a PZL-engined Otter, also receiving the BARON STOL modifications and was put on 8100 floats. The Canadian registration C-GKPB was cancelled on 2 June 2005, fifteen years after the 1993 crash, and the rebuilt aircraft was registered N6868B on 15th June 2005 to Kirk M. Thomas of Ketchikan, Alaska who also owns Otter 183. N6868B was delivered north to Ketchikan that month and went on lease to Pro Mech Air, flying its scheduled network and charters out of Ketchikan. It was not long however before it was involved in an incident. On Thursday 28th July 2005, flown by Pro Mech pilot Fred Wright and carrying ten passengers, the Otter was returning to Ketchikan from the Misty Fjords National Monument where it had been on a sight-seeing flight. While the Otter was near Cutter Rocks in the Mountain Point area, about five miles south-east of Ketchikan, a flash fire erupted near the windshield area of the cockpit. The pilot made an emergency landing of the float-equipped Otter on the water and used the fire extinguisher to put out the fire. However, he received second-degree burns while using the burning-hot control yoke to land the Otter. Pro Mech Air dispatched a second Otter to bring the pilot and his passengers back to Ketchikan and the pilot was then flown to a burns centre in Portland, Oregon for treatment. The Southeast Stevedoring vessel ‘Shoreline IX’ towed N6868B to Pro Mech’s hangar at Peninsula Point for repairs. Repaired and restored to service, N6868B continued to fly for Pro Mech Air until the end of the summer 2005 season. It spent the winter of 2005/06 parked out of service at Peninsula Point. For summer 2006 it was in use based out of Ketchikan by its owner Kirk M. Thomas, trading as Gateway Aviation in support of his fishing lodges. That activity came to an end at the conclusion of the season towards the end of September and by early October 2006 N6868B was again in outside storage for the winter at the Peninsula Point maintenance facility.
Full history up to 2005 courtesy of Karl E Hayes © from DHC-3 Otter - A History (CD-ROM 2005)