DHC-3 Otter Archive Master Index

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c/n 297

OO-SUD on display at Brussels Museum, Belgium.
Photos: Karl E. Hayes © November 2003

c/n 297

OO-SUD

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• OO-SUD Centre National Belge de Recherches Polaires. Delivered 09-Sep-1955. (See the story of its Antarctic adventure below).

• OO-SUD Musee Royal de l'Armee et d'Histoire Militaire, located in the Parc du Cinquantenaire in Brussels. Donated in July 1970. Regn canx 16th March 1972.

Museum

Otter 297 was acquired to support Belgian research in the Antarctic, and was delivered to the Centre National Belge de Recherches Polaires on 9 September 1959, registered OO-SUD. It was painted in a red overall scheme and carried the organisation’s logo.

The first Belgian Antarctic expedition of modern times had taken place between November 1957 and March 1959, to coincide with the 1958 International Geophysical Year. On 12 November 1957 the icebreaker ‘Polarhav’ and the vessel ‘Polarsirkel’ left the Belgian port of Antwerp carrying the expedition and its equipment. This included Auster AOP.6 serial A-2 on loan from the Belgian Army and Bell 47H helicopter OO-SHW, on loan from Sabena. They arrived in Queen Maud Land late in December 1957 and established the King Baudoin Station as their base. The aircraft remained at the base over the austral winter of 1958 and resumed operations in October 1958. The Auster was destroyed in a landing on rough ice near Mount Belgica on 5 December 1958, its crew and the ground party they were supporting being rescued by a C-47 from the Russian station. The expedition returned to Ostend in March 1959 with the Bell 47, which resumed service with Sabena.

The Centre National Belge de Recherches Polaires was then founded to operate the second Belgian expedition. Otter OO-SUD was acquired as a support aircraft, as was Cessna 180 OO-EXP. Following its delivery at Downsview on 9 September 1959 the Otter was packed into a crate and shipped to Antarctica where it was re-assembled. The Cessna 180 was also shipped to Antarctica and both aircraft were in use during the southern summer of 1959/60, based at the King Baudoin base, and flown and maintained on behalf of the Expedition by Belgian Army personnel. The Otter was named “Jean Loodts”.

The Otter and the Cessna were used again to support the following year’s expedition, 1960 / 1961. The Otter suffered some damage in a heavy landing towards the end of the season. On 31 January 1961 the King Baudoin base was closed down, this being the end of the season and both the Otter and the Cessna were shipped back to Belgium. At that stage the Belgian government informed the scientific community that it would not fund the continuation of Antarctic research, due to austerity required by the situation in the Belgian Congo, which was a heavy drain on government finances. There was no money forthcoming to repair the Otter, nor to mount any further expeditions, so the Centre National Belge de Recherches Polaires was defunct. The Otter was put into storage at the Belgian Air Force base at Brustem, which had been the headquarters of the Centre National. It was to remain in storage there, in poor conditions, for the next nine years.

After pressure was applied by the scientific community, government funding was eventually restored and the next expedition took place during the southern summer of 1963 / 1964, carried out by the Comite Antartique Belgo-Neerlandais (the Belgische-Nederlands Zuidpool Expeditie in the Dutch language). This was a joint Belgian / Dutch expedition which in November 1965 received U-1B Otter 144669 (148) on loan from the United States Navy, and which was later purchased and registered OO-HAD. The Comite also used the Cessna 180 OO-EXP. When Otter OO-HAD crashed in the Antarctic in February 1970, it marked the end of Belgian scientific endeavours in the region for the foreseeable future, as the government was unwilling to put up any more money.

At that stage, appreciating that Belgian Antarctic exploration was over, at least for the foreseeable future, Otter OO-SUD, which was still in storage at Brustem, was donated to the Musée Royal de l’Armée et d’Histoire Militaire, located in the Parc du Cinquantaire in Brussels, in July 1970. Such parts as had been salvaged from the crashed OO-HAD were brought back to Belgium and used in the restoration of OO-SUD to display status. The registration OO-SUD was officially cancelled on 16 March 1972 and OO-SUD went on public display in the Museum, where it remains to this day.

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.