DHC-3 Otter Archive Master Index

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c/n 292

CF-LLL with McIntyre Porcupine Mines Ltd.
Photo: Sheldon D. Benner © July 1964 - Michael J. Ody Collection
CF-LLL at Toronto/ Malton - CYYZ, Ontario.
Photo: Sheldon D. Benner © April 1966 - Karl E. Hayes Collection
CF-LLL on her amphibs at Toronto/ Malton - CYYZ, Ontario.
Photo: Sheldon D. Benner © August 1966 - Michael J. Ody Collection
CF-LLL still with her shiny prop at CYYZ.
Photo: Gary Vincent © 23 October 1971
CF-LLL at Winnipeg - CYWG, Manitoba.
Photo: Tim Martin © 13 August 1972
C-FLLL at Taltson River, Northwest Territories.
Photo: Mike Butler © Fall 2020
C-FLLL under repair at Sealand Aviation Campbell River - CYBL, British Columbia.
Photos: Dirk Septer © 22 April 2022
C-FLLL overview of progress, thanks Dirk.
Photos: Dirk Septer © 27 January 2023

c/n 292




• CF-LLL McIntyre Porcupine Mines Ltd., Edmonton, AB. Delivered 14-May-1959.

• CF-LLL Bannock Aerospace Ltd., Toronto, ON.  November 1971.

• CF-LLL Leased to Cross Lake Air Service Ltd., Wabowden, MB. Regd Nov-1971.

• CF-LLL & C-FLLL Cross Lake Air Service Ltd., Wabowden, MB. Purchased and regd..25-Sep-1973.

Accident: Wabowden, MB. 31-Dec-1971. The aircraft stalled and crashed on take off.

• C-FLLL. T.C.Leasing Ltd., La Ronge,  SK. Regd 13th January 2003,

Power plant. Re engined at TC Leasing, Saskatoon, SK., with a Vazar Turbine.

• C-FLLL Leased to Osprey Wings Ltd., La Ronge, SK. Regd 27-May-2003. Canx 25-Apr-2008.

Note: Operated for Hatchet Lake Lodge. Summer 2004.

• C-FLLL Northwestern Air Lease Ltd., Fort Smith, NT. Regd 15-May-2008. See updates below.

On rebuild

Otter 292 was delivered to McIntyre Porcupine Mines Ltd., Edmonton, Alberta on 14 May 1959 registered CF-LLL. This company also operated Grumman Goose CF-BKE in support of mining activities in western Canada. The Otter was painted yellow overall with a black cheatline and McIntyre Mines titles. By mid 1964 it had been repainted with dark blue cheatline. By early 1966, yet another change of livery, white with a cheatline of shades of blue and a tail flash. It was operated on amphibious floats, or wheel-skis, as the season required. After twelve years of serving the mining company, and having been replaced by Twin Otter CF-GJK, the Otter was sold in November 1971 to Bannock Aerospace Ltd.., of Toronto. It was immediately sold on to a leasing syndicate, who leased the Otter to Cross Lake Air Service Ltd., of Wabowden, Manitoba to whom the Otter was registered in November 1971. When Cross Lake Air Service took delivery of LLL it was still in the executive configuration in which the mining company had operated it, complete with washroom. The VIP interior was stripped out and the Otter converted to a more utilitarian bush plane configuration.

Only a month after it had been delivered, on 31 December 1971, it stalled and crashed on take-off from Wabowden, having “failed to obtain/maintain flying speed”. It was repaired, re-registered C-FLLL and continued in service with Cross Lake Air Service. Despite this accident early in its career, the Otter went on to give more than thirty years service to this operator.  The small town of Wabowden is located some 660 kilometres north of Winnipeg, in northern Manitoba. At the time the Otter was delivered, this was a very remote region with no roads. The Otter, flying alongside the company’s Beaver and Cessna aircraft, became a lifeline to the many small isolated communities around Wabowden. Cross Lake was one of these, from which the company took its name, and to which the Otter was a frequent visitor, up to 14 times a day. The Otter was also much in demand to support exploration and survey work in the region.

When the road eventually came to Wabowden, and outlying communities were no longer so isolated, the role of the Otter changed, to supporting the tourist industry, and it was used during the summer only. The company operated a fishing lodge 110 miles from Wabowden which the Otter serviced. For a remarkable thirty years, LLL was active based out of Wabowden, and during this period it never left the Province of Manitoba. Sadly, the owner of Cross Lake Air Service passed away in February 2001 and the company was closed down. In January 2003 the Otter was sold and on 13 January was registered to its new owners, T. C. Leasing Ltd., of La Ronge, Saskatchewan.

The Otter was flown to Saskatoon, where it was converted to a Vazar turbine Otter with a PT-6A-34 engine. It then went on lease to associated company, Osprey Wings Ltd., of La Ronge, to whom it was registered on 27 May 2003 and it was painted all white. For summer 2003 it was based at Missinipe, north of La Ronge, flying alongside the company’s Beavers and other turbine Otters, serving the bush country of northern Saskatchewan. For summer 2004 Osprey Wings operated the Otter for Hatchet Lake Lodge, a fishing lodge located in remote northern Saskatchewan. LLL was still painted all white but carried the Lodge’s titles on the fuselage. The Lodge’s owners chartered a Convair 580 to fly their guests from Winnipeg, landing on a six thousand foot runway a mile from the Lodge. It was a two hour flight from Winnipeg in the Convair. The Otter was then used to fly the guests each day from the Lodge to one of the seventeen “pristine lakes full of trophy fish” belonging to the Lodge. The Otter had returned to its base at Missinipe by 4 September 2004 at the conclusion of the summer fishing season.

The Otter continued to fly for Osprey Wings for the next few years, until it was sold to Steller Aviation Ltd., of Campbell River, BC in April 2008. This is a leasing company who leased the Otter to Northwest Air Lease Ltd., of Fort Smith, Northwest Territories, to whom C-FLLL was registered on 15 May 2008. For some years Northwest Air had operated a fleet of Jetstream aircraft on scheduled services to local communities throughout the Northwest Territories and these scheduled services remain its core business. In 2005 however the company also branched out into charter work, with a Beaver and Cessna. Northwest Air purchased the former Big River Air hangar at Fort Smith and between May 2007 and May 2008 operated turbine Otter C-FVQD (466) on lease.  LLL was acquired in May 2008 to replace VQD. It remained white overall with company titles.

Northwest Air had a number of contracts for which it needed the Otter, based out of Fort Smith. In the bush country to the north of Fort Smith are many excellent canoe routes, the Otter being much in demand to fly the canoe parties to their access points, and to collect them at the conclusion of their journey. Thelon River Canoe Arctic Inc used the Otter for this purpose. The Otter also served the North Star Resort fishing lodge on Thekulthili Lake, one hundred miles north-east of Fort Smith, flying in and collecting the Lodge’s fishing guests. There were other tourists, fishermen and hunters to cater for and also support of mineral exploration in the region, all of which kept LLL quite busy year round. It flew on amphibious floats in the summer, wheel-skis in winter.

A few incidents reported on CADORS record the Otter’s activities, its callsign being PLR (Polaris) 403:

14 July 2008  Otter LLL operated within transponder airspace at Fort McMurray, Alberta without a functioning Mode C transponder.

February 2009  LLL broke through a frozen lake when landing in the bush and got into some overflow. The pilot managed to taxi onto firm ice but water got into the brakes and froze. When landing back at Fort Smith, the frozen brakes caused an abrupt stop, occasioning some damage to the Otter. After repairs it was back in service a few weeks later.

01 March 2012  LLL was landing at an un-named lake 118 miles from Stony Rapids Airport. The lake was frozen. After the main gear had touched down, but before the tail touched down, the tail ski contacted an ice pressure ridge. When the tail ski was lowered to the surface, the ski tip dug in and the tail assembly was torn from the aircraft. The Otter sustained minor skin damage.

In November 2013 LLL was advertised for sale by Steller Aviation Ltd., having at that stage a total time of 15,185 hours and an asking price of $1,225,000. Engine was the PT-6A-34 with 3,030 hours since new. The Otter was still all white and available either on EDO 7490 straight floats or Wipline 8000 amphibians. It remained in use by Northwest Air based out of Fort Smith and was still in use as such during 2020 on amphibs.

C-FLLL, using the "Polaris 403" callsign, continued flying for Northwestern Air.  It featured in a CADORS report for 23 July 2020, on a flight from Powder Lake to its base at Fort Smith with the pilot and two passengers. Upon departure from the lake the pilot observed that both hydraulic pumps were working. He attempted to extend the landing gear on the amphibious floats but could not. Approaching Fort Smith he tried to manually lower the gear but the forward gear remained retracted. He requested that the emergency services be notified and performed a fly-by at Fort Smith.  He then landed in a field to the north of the runway 21 approach at Fort Smith. There were no injuries. Inspection revealed that a hydraulic line had ruptured. It was repaired and the Otter returned to service. During winter 2020/21 it was operated on wheel skis and was noted delivering fuel to O’Conner Lake.  For summer 2021 it was put back on amphibious floats.

On 10 July 2021, the Otter with its pilot and four passengers, was on a flight from Fort Smith to a lake sixteen miles east north east of Fort Smith. Unfortunately the landing gear on the amphibious floats was down and after it touched down on the lake the Otter nosed over and came to rest inverted. The pilot was able to get out of the cockpit door and swam to the back of the aircraft to assist the passengers exit the aircraft.  They were all picked up by a boat which arrived shortly thereafter.  Efforts then commenced to retrieve the Otter from the lake.

At the time, Vancouver Island Helicopters had two Sikorsky S-61s deployed to Fort McMurray, about two hundred miles away, for fire fighting duties and one of these was chartered to retrieve the Otter. Personnel from Northwestern Air flew to the lake in one of the company’s Cessnas and brushed out a helipad beside the lake for use by the S-61. A salvage diver from Fort Smith attached airbags to the Otter and straps which could be used by the S-61 to lift it. After the helicopter arrived its first task was to air-tow the Otter from where it lay in the lake to the shore, where it could be worked on. The rudder was taken off, all flight controls secured and as much weight as possible removed from the aircraft. It was then airlifted by the S-61 from the lake back to Fort Smith from where, in due course, it would be trucked to a maintenance provider for repair.

Noted under repair at Sealand Aviation, Campbell River Airport, British Columbia in January 2023.

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.