DHC-3 Otter Archive Master Index

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c/n 28

3673 on display.
Photo: Sheldon D. Benner © June 1964 - Michael J. Ody Collection
3673 at Toronto Island - CYTZ, Ontario.
Photo: Sheldon D. Benner © July 1971 - Michael J. Ody Collection
"C-FPVI" of the Pacific Vocational Institute - CYVR, British Columbia.
Photo: John Kimberley © June 1984 - Michael J. Ody Collection
"C-FCGP" of the Pacific Vocational Institute, at Vancouver South, BC.
Photo: John Kimberley © September 1985 - Michael J. Ody Collection
Photo: John Kimberley © May 1987 - Michael J. Ody Collection
C-FSVP at Lac Sébastien - CTD3 (Saint-David-de-Falardeau), Québec.
Photo: Pierre Gillard © 11 October 2012
C-FSVP at St. Mathais-sur-Richelieu, Québec.
Photo: Karl E. Hayes © May 2001

c/n 28

3673 • "C-FPVI" • “C-FCGP”

C-FSVP

x

 3673 Royal Canadian Air Force. Delivered on 13-Jan-1954 and was allocated to 103 Rescue Unit at Greenwood, NS.

Incident:  Near Downsview, ON. 12-Jan-1981. During a maintenance test flight out of Downsview in the Toronto area, a “C” category mishap was recorded. The pilot noticed the RPM increasing on its own and was able to control it only by reducing power or increasing the load. The pilot altered course for base but two minutes later the oil pressure dropped to zero. He declared an emergency, shut down the engine and carried out a forced landing in a snow-covered field, during which the landing gear was damaged. Investigation found that an oil line had not been properly installed during the maintenance of the engine. That incident however ended the aircraft's military career, which would have ended in any event the following year when the Otter was withdrawn from Canadian military service. A salvage team from Downsview arrived and took the wings off 3673 and loaded it with the help of a crane onto a truck. The damaged Otter was taken to the Mountain View storage depot, Ontario where the following year it was joined by all the remaining CAF Otters as they were withdrawn from service at Downsview and St.Hubert.

• “C-FCGP” Pacific Vocational Institute, Vancouver International Airport, BC. Dates unknown.

Note: The aircraft was intended to be used as an instructional airframe. At one stage the Institute considered repairing the Otter and flying it to Vancouver, but in the event it was dismantled and trucked across the country. At Vancouver, the wings were put back on, the damage from the forced landing repaired, and the Otter was parked outside the Institute's hangar, still in its CAF colour scheme and sporting a fictitious registration “C-FCGP”, the “CGP” standing for C.Gordon Peters, who had been a long-time instructor at the Institute and a well-known figure on the local aviation scene. For the next eight years, the Otter did not fly, but was used as a ground instructional airframe by the Institute. Also marked "C-FPVI" at one point to represent the Pacific Vocational Institute.

• C-FSVP Dajaco Commercial Corporation, Calgary.28-Nov-1990

Note: Converted to Vazar turbine power. Nov-1990 by Aeroflite at Vancouver.

 C-FSVP Central Mountain Air Services Ltd.,  Smithers, BC. Regd 18-Jun-1991.Del 20-Nov-1991 on export to USA,

 N252KA Leased to Ketchikan Air Service Inc.,  Ketchikan, AK.

 C-FSVP Central Mountain Air Services Ltd.  Regd 17-Feb-1993, Canx 31-Jan-1995 following bankruptcy.

• C-FSVP Gynn Bay Logging Ltd., trading as Western Straits Air, based at Campbell River, BC. Regd 31-Jan-1995. Canx 11-Dec-1995.

Incident: Kildidt Sound, BC. 27-Aug-1995. While en route to a fishing resort, the pilot of the float-equipped turbo Otter had to carry out a forced landing on the water because the engine stopped. The fuel supply was exhausted. The fuel gauge was faulty and had given an erroneous reading. There was no injury or damage.

• C-FSVP Northern Lights Air Service Ltd., Goose Bay, NL. Regd 11-Sep-1995. Re regd 20-Jun-2001. Canx 16-Jul-2002

Incident: A lake 120 miles north of Goose Bay 11th May 2000. The Otter, loaded with four full fuel drums and a snowmobile, and with the two men who had chartered the aircraft as passengers, had landed at Panche Lake for the night. They planned to then move the cargo to a new caribou hunting sport lodge which the men were constructing north of Crystal Lake. The ski-equipped Otter had just taken off from the frozen surface of the lake. After becoming airborne, the pilot noticed a “thumping” sound and asked one of the passengers to look outside to see if they could determine the source of the sound. The rear-seat passenger, having opened the cabin door to look out, informed the pilot that the right main landing gear ski was “swinging”, so the pilot elected to land the aircraft back on the lake. Upon touchdown the right ski dug into the ice surface and folded under the landing gear strut, and then the landing gear sheared off. As one of the passengers later described the incident: “Everything was okay for about five seconds after we touched down, and then snow started flying everywhere. We hit down on one wing tip and the plane collapsed on one side. We had skidded about 150 feet. Fuel was running everywhere - a ski leg had gone through the main tank”. As the Otter came to a stop, the pilot called Wabush FSS and reported the accident, and that there were no injuries. This information was relayed to Halifax Rescue Co-Ordination Centre, and a CAF CH-146 Griffon helicopter from 444 Squadron at Goose Bay was dispatched to pick up the pilot and his two passengers. A recovery team was later dispatched to repair the Otter, which then flew back to Goose  Bay.

Note: Stored at St.Mathias-sur-Richelieu, QC., until advertised for sale in Apr-2001.

Total hours: 14,442 hours at Apr-2001.

Mods included: Baron STOL kit, EDO  7170 floats, bubble windows and new metal floor.

• C-FSVP Leased to Labrador Airways Ltd., Goose Bay, NL. Regd 16-Jul-2002. Can 01-Nov-2002 & 08-Dec-2008.

• C-FSVP Nordair Quebec 2000 Inc.,  Radisson, QC, Based La Grande Rivière, QC. Regd 06-Jun-2006 Re regd 30-Jun-2006. Canx 06-Jul-2006.Re regd 27-Jun-2006 &23-Oct-200010. Canx 13-Sep-2010.

• C-FSVP Air Wimindji, Wimindji, QC. Regd 18-Oct-2010. Canx 20-Jun-2012.

• C-FSVP Air Saguenay (1980) Inc., Jonquière, QC. Regd 13-Jul-2012. Canx 13-Jul-2012.

Status unknown

x

Otter number 28 was delivered to the RCAF on 13th January 1954 with serial 3673. Its first posting was to 103 Rescue Unit at Greenwood, Nova Scotia where it adopted the unit's QZ code. With 103RU it served alongside Otter 3677 and the unit's Cansos and Dakotas. 3673 was a veryactive machine and is frequently mentioned in the unit's history, initially on transport flights, medevacs, training details and parachute drops. On 19th August 1954 it is recorded as flying to the Grand Manan area to search for a missing person, escorted by Canso 9830. On 13th January 1955 it acted as crew ferry to Bagotville Air Base, Quebec with the crew of Piasecki H-21 helicopter 9614.

The following day, the Otter escorted the H-21 from Bagotville to Presque Isle, Maine where they had to overnight due weather, continuing on the next day via Moncton back to Greenwood. On 11th April 1955 3673 set off from Greenwood via Montréal and North Bay to Winnipeg, where it went on loan until the end of the year to 111 Communications & Rescue Flight at Winnipeg, to cover for Otter 3662 which was away on overhaul. 3673 remained at Winnipeg until 8th December 1955 when it set off to return to Greenwood, where it arrived back on the 14th December after its lengthy cross-country flight. On 28th January 1956 it flew to Trenton for the installation of a VHF radio, returning to Greenwood on 31st January 1956. In May 1957 it was engaged on “SAR Lorenz”, the search for missing Aero Commander 520 EP-AEA in Quebec, already referred to in relation to Otter 3665.

3673 continued operating with 103RU for several years. It went to DHC at Downsview in April 1958 to have some work done, returning to Greenwood on 17th June 1958 on amphibious floats. On 25th November 1958 it is recorded searching the Lake Rossignol area for missing hunters, escorted by Canso 11087. On 28th April 1960 a minor “C” category mishap was recorded in the course of a navigation training cross country detail out of Greenwood. The Otter was practising water landings and beachings. During climbout after one such practice, a vibration in the aft fuselage was noticed.

On landing, the fuselage near the jump door was found to be buckled as a result of a heavy landing. This was put down to “poor design - known problem area” and the damage was repaired. 3673 continued flying with 103RU from Greenwood until November 1962, when it went to No.6 Repair Depot at Trenton, to be prepared for its next assignment, which was to 102 Communications Unit at Trenton, the Otter OCU, which it joined in May 1963. In September 1963 a set of amphibious floats (taken from Otter 3674) was installed on 3673. Subsequent postings were to 4 Operational Training Unit at Trenton in August 1966 and finally to 411 Squadron, Downsview in February 1967, where it was to remain for the next fifteen years. It undertook a number of long-range trips, including to the Northwest Territories in June 1973. It is recorded as flying Downsview-Kapuskasing-Sioux Lookout on 21st June and the following day from Sioux Lookout-Thompson-Churchill and onwards into the NWT.

On 12th January 1981, during a maintenance test flight out of Downsview in the Toronto area, a “C” category mishap was recorded. The pilot noticed the RPM increasing on its own and was able to control it only by reducing power or increasing the load. The pilot altered course for base but two minutes later the oil pressure dropped to zero. He declared an emergency, shut down the engine and carried out a forced landing in a snow-covered field, during which the landing gear was damaged. Investigation found that an oil line had not been properly installed during the maintenance of the engine. That incident however ended the aircraft's military career, which would have ended in any event the following year when the Otter was withdrawn from Canadian military service. A salvage team from Downsview arrived and took the wings off 3673 and loaded it with the help of a crane onto a truck. The damaged Otter was taken to the Mountain View storage depot, Ontario where the following year it was joined by all the remaining CAF Otters as they were withdrawn from service at Downsview and St.Hubert.

Of the 20 Otters which arrived at Mountain View, 18 were sold, one (9408) went to the National Aviation Museum at Rockcliffe, and one (3673) was donated in 1982 to the Pacific Vocational Institute at the Vancouver International Airport, BC, where it was to be used as an instructional airframe. At one stage the Institute considered repairing the Otter and flying it to Vancouver, but in the event it was dismantled and trucked across the country. At Vancouver, the wings were put back on, the damage from the forced landing repaired, and the Otter was parked outside the Institute's hangar, still in its CAF colour scheme and sporting a fictitious registration “C-FCGP”, the “CGP” standing for C. Gordon Peters, who had been a long-time instructor at the Institute and a well-known figure on the local aviation scene. He retired around the time the aircraft was delivered to PVI. For the next eight years, the Otter did not fly, but was used as a ground instructional airframe by the Institute. It also wore the marks "PVI" in 1984, which of course represented the owner - the Pacific Vocational Institute.

Standing outside under the elements for such a period would have been the end of a lesser aircraft, but like several Otter instructional airframes, this Otter was to rise again. In November 1990 the Otter was registered to Dajaco Commercial Corporation of Calgary as C-FSVP, in connection with its conversion to a DHC-3T Vazar turbine. It was towed the short distance across the ramp at Vancouver to the Aeroflite facility where the conversion work was done, and it emerged from their hangar in pristine condition as a turbo Otter. It was then sold to Central Mountain Air Services Ltd., of Smithers, BC and departed from Vancouver on 29th June 1991 on delivery to Smithers, where it entered service with Central Mountain Air alongside their other turbo Otters C-GCMY (22) and CFXUY (142).

In November 1991 the Otter went on lease to Ketchikan Air Service Inc., of Ketchikan, Alaska and was registered N252KA. It returned to Central Mountain Air in February 1993, reverting to C-FSVP and continued in service with them. The company filed for protection under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act in June 1994 and SVP was sold in January 1995 to Gynn Bay Logging Ltd., trading as Western Straits Air, based at Campbell River, BC on Vancouver Island where it served alongside Western Straits Air other turbine Otter C-FEBX (38).

C-FSVP features in an incident report for 27th August 1995 at Kildidt Sound, BC. “While en route to a fishing resort, the pilot of the float-equipped turbo Otter had to carry out a forced landing on the water because the engine stopped. The fuel supply was exhausted. The fuel gauge was faulty and had given an erroneous reading. There was no injury or damage”. Later that year, on 27th September 1995, Western Straits Air other Otter C-FEBX (38) crashed near Campbell River with heavy loss of life, a blow from which the company was unable to recover. Operations ceased and in December 1995 C-FSVP was sold to a leasing company, who leased it to Northern Lights Air Service Ltd., of Goose Bay, Labrador, the Otter crossing the country to its new home.

For nearly five years SVP flew without incident throughout Labrador from its base at Goose Bay, until 11th May 2000 when it was substantially damaged on a lake 120 miles north of Goose Bay. The Otter, loaded with four full fuel drums and a snowmobile, and with the two men who had chartered the aircraft as passengers, had landed at Panche Lake for the night. They planned to then move the cargo to a new caribou hunting sport lodge which the men were constructing north of Crystal Lake. The ski-equipped Otter had just taken off from the frozen surface of the lake. After becoming airborne, the pilot noticed a “thumping” sound and asked one of the passengers to look outside to see if they could determine the source of the sound. The rear-seat passenger, having opened the cabin door to look out, informed the pilot that the right main landing gear ski was “swinging”, so the pilot elected to land the aircraft back on the lake. Upon touchdown the right ski dug into the ice surface and folded under the landing gear strut, and then the landing gear sheared off.

As one of the passengers later described the incident: “Everything was okay for about five seconds after we touched down, and then snow started flying everywhere. We hit down on one wing tip and the plane collapsed on one side. We had skidded about 150 feet. Fuel was running everywhere - a ski leg had gone through the main tank”. As the Otter came to a stop, the pilot called Wabush FSS and reported the accident, and that there were no injuries. This information was relayed to Halifax Rescue Co-Ordination Centre, and a CAF CH-146 Griffon helicopter from 444 Squadron at Goose Bay was dispatched to pick up the pilot and his two passengers. A recovery team was later dispatched to repair the Otter, which then flew back to Goose Bay.

That incident however ended the Otter's career with Northern Lights Air Service. It was returned to the leasing company, and ferried to St.Mathias-sur-Richelieu, Québec where it was put into storage, still in Northern Lights colour scheme. In April 2001 it was advertised for sale with a total airframe time of 14,442 hours. Features referred to in the advert included its Baron STOL kit, EDO 7170 floats, bubble windows and new metal floor. The Otter was leased to Labrador Airways Ltd., to whom it was registered on 16th July 2002, and it returned to Goose Bay. It replaced C-FQOS (398), the Labrador Airways turbine Otter which had crashed at Goose the previous September. After the summer of 2002, SVP returned to storage at St.Mathias-sur-Richelieu, its total time having risen to 14,803 hours. It was again advertised for sale with an asking price of $1,500,000 Canadian. It was still in storage there during 2004, still advertised for sale.

Eventually a sale was achieved and on 6 June 2006 C-FSVP was registered to its new owners, Nordair Quebec 2000 Inc., of Radisson, Québec. This was the company of a famous Québec aviator Jean-Marie Arsenault and his son, Glen, based at the Aeroport La Grande Rivière, Radisson in the north-west of Québec on the coast of James Bay. The airline was funded by the Cree Nation of Wemindji, having effectively taken over from and continued the work of their own airline, Air Wemindji, after it shut down in 2003.  SVP was bought by Nordair to replace its existing turbine Otter C-FKLC (255) which had crashed in April 2006 and was a write-off.

SVP took over from KLC serving the remote bush country of northern Quebec, providing the usual range of services including of course supporting the native Cree people. A series of CADORS reports give an insight into its activities over the next two years:

26 July 2006.  SVP was on a VFR flight from La Grande Rivière to a lake 8 miles north-east. After a call on final the FSS did not receive any confirmation that the aircraft had landed safely on the water. The Québec provincial police were informed. The pilot called on take-off half an hour later and was told that searches were underway. The police were informed the aircraft had been located.

21 September 2006.   SVP on a flight VFR from Kuujjuarapik to La Grande Rivière. Pilot used a satellite phone to report he was inbound no radio. Advisory service with ‘NORDO’ procedure was conducted.

11 March 2007.  SVP en route from La Grande Rivièere to a destination 40 miles east. Pilot did not broadcast his intentions before leaving the circuit and the mandatory frequency area.

14 March 2007.  SVP took off from runway 31 at La Grande Rivièere for a VFR flight to a destination 135 miles east after the crew had been informed that runway 31 was closed due to accumulation of ice, and after having received runway surface conditions and friction index, which were safe for Otter operations.

9 June 2007.  SVP on a VFR flight to La Grande Rivière. Pilot established initial contact in the Mandatory Frequency area ten miles north-west at 1,500 feet. Communications with the FSS had been delayed due to other traffic.

17 July 2007. SVP inbound to La Grande Rivière and was given clearance to land on Runway 31 under special flight clearance in conditions below visual meteorological conditions. Pilot notified of deteriorating conditions with visibility down to one and half miles and ceiling falling. Pilot reported on short final and landed on Runway 13 without notifying FSS of his change of plan.

29 July 2007.  SVP flying VFR in the Mandatory Frequency area six miles south-east of La Grande Rivière. Pilot reported he was taking off from Lac Desaulniers. He had not indicated his plan to land on the lake in advance. A similar incident occurred again five minutes later.

10 September 2007.  SVP departed Kuujjuarapik for La Grande Rivièere. Pilot advised of presence of a vehicle on the runway. Pilot lined up at the intersection of Runway 22 and took off without providing notification. He said he had enough space to take off.

7 October 2007.  SVP inbound to La Grande Rivière VFR for a landing on Runway 13. Pilot advised indication of a landing gear malfunction and performed a low fly by. All looked in order and the Otter landed without incident.

5 November 2007.   SVP flying VFR one hundred miles north-east of La Grande Rivière. Microphone stuck open on the mandatory frequency for a time.

3 February 2008.  Two caribou seen wandering towards the runway threshold at La Grande Rivière as SVP was taking off. Took off without incident.

8 March 2008. SVP flying VFR 75 miles east-north-east to La Grande Rivière. Approaching the airport, pilot reported change in destination to Lake Attila because there was an indication that the skis were lowered. Then, without having landed on the lake, pilot advised he was heading once again for La Grande Rivière where he landed without incident.

29 March 2008. Three caribou noted on the south side of the runway at La Grande Rivière. SVP was on final approach for Runway 13 and pilot was notified. The caribou left the area when they heard the aircraft approaching.

6 April 2008.  SVP flying from a position 85 miles east to La Grande Rivière. Pilot made initial contact 13 miles east at 11,000 feet even though initial contact should have been made before 15 miles at 3,600 feet. The frequency had been busy with other aircraft.

13 April 2008. Several caribou sighted on the runway at La Grande Rivière while a Nordair Beaver was on approach and Otter SVP was taxying out for departure. The Beaver landed and the Otter took off without incident.

20 April 2008.  Caribou observed near Runway 13 threshold at La Grande Rivière as Otter SVP and Beaver were inbound. Both landed without incident farther down the runway.

SVP was noted at La Grande Rivière airport in March 2008, still in basic Northern Lights colour scheme but sporting fuselage titles ‘Aventures Baie d’Hudson’. It flew alongside Nordair’s Piper Navajo C-GDDX and Beaver C-FGYK.  By June 2008 SVP’s turbine engine was due for an overhaul, but Nordair’s financial backers were not prepared to underwrite the cost of this and so Otter SVP was withdrawn from use. It was flown south to Val d’Or Airport and stored there. Nordair’s operations continued with the Navajo and Beaver until tragedy struck on 24 July 2010 when Beaver C-FGYK crashed shortly after take-off from Aeroport La Grande Rivière, killing Glen Arsenault, the pilot, as well as one of the passengers and injuring the other passengers.

In the aftermath of this terrible tragedy, the business of Nordair Québec 2000 Inc., was wound down. Registration of both Otters was changed to Air Wemindji Inc., on 18 October 2010, SVP still in storage at Val d’Or and KLC still a wreck after its crash in 2006. The final aircraft to go was the Navajo C-GDDX and when that was sold in December 2010 Nordair Québec 2000 Inc., passed into history.

Air Wemindji Inc had not traded since it was close down in 2003 but now had two turbine Otters registered to it. The wreck of KLC was sold in November 2011 and over the winter of 2011 / 2012 a new engine was installed in SVP at Val d’Or, with a view to re-starting operations. The Otter was noted outside the hangar at Val d’Or end of March 2012 on amphibious floats. It was still in the same colour scheme it had carried for many years, still with ‘Aventures Baie d’Hudson’ titles. The registration to Air Wemindji was cancelled on 20 June 2012 and it was registered on 13 July 2012 to its new owner Air Saguenay (1980) Inc., of Lac Sébastien, Québec, joining its large fleet of Otters.

SVP was noted mid October 2012 tied down in outside storage at the Air Saguenay base at Lac Sébastien. It was in the same colour scheme as before but now with Nisk Air Services titles, a partner business of Air Saguenay with a base at Lac Matiawashish in the Baie James region of northern Québec. It was subsequently repainted in full Labrador Air Safari orange and white colour scheme and titles and flew as part of their Otter fleet, on amphibious floats.  Labrador Air Safari are a subsidiary of Air Saguenay and as of summer 2018 Otter SVP continued in service with Labrador Air Safari.

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.