DHC-3 Otter Archive Master Index

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c/n 302

N90575 at Boeing Field, Seattle, Washington.
Photo: Unknown photographer © January 1975 - Karl E. Hayes Collection
C-GMDG at Baker Lake,
Photo: Peter Wollenberg © June 1983 - Aird Archives
Photo: Peter Wollenberg © 1985 - Aird Archives
C-GMDG when still piston powered.
Photo: John Kimberley © April 1993 - Karl E. Hayes Collection
C-GMDG at Fort Frances, Ontario.
Photo: Karl E. Hayes © May 2004
C-GMDG at the usual dock.
Photo: Tim Williams © August 2005 - Karl E. Hayes Collection
C-GMDG at Fort Frances water base.
Photo: Fred Barnes © 17 September 2009

c/n 302

58-1692 • N90575



• 58-1692 United States Army. Delivered 02-Dec-1958. Designated U-1A.

Initially delivered to Sharpe Army Depot, Stockton, CA.

Date unknown. Allocated to 17th Aviation Company, Fort Ord, CA.

Jan-1962. Assigned to the 18th Aviation Company for deployment to Vietnam. Actual date and location in Vietnam currently unknown.

Incident: Pleiku, Vietnam. Forced landing because of power failure. Returned to flying condition by 339th Transport Command.

Apr-1966. Returned to the US to Army Aeronautical Depot Maintenance Centre (ARADMAC), Corpus Christi, TX for depot level overhaul.

Jun-1966. Returned to Vietnam with the 54th Aviation Company.

Oct-1970. 56th Transportation Company.

Jan-1971. 166th Aviation Maintenance Detachment.

Apr-1971. Sharpe Army Depot, Stockton, CA., where it was stored.

Feb-1973. Deleted from Army inventory. Jan-1975.

• N90575 Harold J. Hansen, Boeing Field, Seattle, WA. Regd Jan-1975.

• N90575 Frontier Flying Service, Fairbanks, AK., on lease from Harold  Hansen. Regd circa Jul-1975.

Accident. Kuskokwim River, AK. 23-Sep-1975. The Otter was on a cargo run, taking off from the Kuskokwim River en route to Minchumina, in gusty wind conditions, with inoperative flaps. There was insufficient room for the take off, and the Otter collided with a dirt bank in the river, causing substantial damage. See narrative for further information regarding accident and repair.

• N90575 Lawrence C (Buck) Maxon, dba Maxon Aviation, Kotzebue, AK. Regd 12-Oct-1978. Canx 0901-Apr-1980 on export to Canada.

Accident. Trail Creek, AK. 1st July 1979. The Otter had departed from its base at Kotzebue with a load of freight and was landing at Trail Creek, when the gear collapsed.

Note: Taken to Calgary, AB.,  where it was repaired by Kimba Air Services.

• C-GMDG Air Park Aviation Ltd., Lac du Bonnet, MB. Regd Jun-1980. Canx 06-Jan-1983.

• C-GMDG L S D Aviation Ltd., Fort Frances, ON. Regd date unknown. Canx 28-Jun-1983.

• C-GMDG Fort Frances Sportsmen Airways Ltd., Fort Frances. ON. (Northern Wilderness Outfitters) Regd 19-Apr-1984.

Power plant. Converted to Vazar, 750 hp Pratt & Whitney PT-6A turboprop.

Note: Currently wears Northern Wilderness Outfitters logos.


Otter 302 was delivered to the United States Army on 2 December 1958 with serial 58-1692 (tail number 81692). It was allocated to the 17th Aviation Company at Fort Ord, California. It was delivered from Downsview to the Sharpe Army Depot at Stockton, California before continuing on to Fort Ord. The Otters of the 17th Aviation Company supported the troops of the 7th Infantry Division, with regular flights throughout California and around the western United States.

In January 1962 seven Otters from the 17th Aviation Company (including 81692) were assigned to the 18th Aviation Company for deployment to Vietnam. The seven Otters were flown from Fort Ord to Oakland and put on board the ‘USNS Core’ along with the 18th Aviation Company’s own Otters. The vessel sailed from Oakland on 18 January 1962, passing under the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco just after dark on 18 January 1962. After a stop at Guam, the carrier arrived at Saigon. After unloading the Otters, they were towed to Tan Son Nhut airfield, where they were re-assembled by mechanics of Air Vietnam and were then flown to their operational areas. With the 18th Aviation Company 81692 carried code F. The Company had a number of different bases around Vietnam for its Otters.

81692 is mentioned in the history of the 339th Transportation Company, which provided maintenance support for these Otters: “Recovery at Pleiku 2 January 1963. The first recovery of this period took place this day after U-1A serial 81692 of the 18th Aviation Company had to make a forced landing at Pleiku because of power failure. In one day a crew from the fixed wing section of the 339th TC returned the Otter to flyable status”. The Otter continued flying for the 18th Aviation Company until April 1966, when it returned to the United States for depot level overhaul at the ARADMAC Depot, Corpus Christi, Texas. Aircraft were flown from Vietnam to the Depot and then back to Vietnam on board USAF transport aircraft, either C-124s or C-133s.

After overhaul the Otter was returned to Vietnam in June 1966 and joined the 54th Aviation Company, which also had several bases around the country. It continued to fly for this Unit until October 1970 when it was taken on charge by the 56th Transportation Company, who prepared it to return home. By January 1971 it was with the 166th Aviation Maintenance Detachment and by April 1971 it had arrived back in the US, at the Sharpe Army Depot, Stockton, California. It remained in storage here until February 1973, when it was deleted from the Army inventory and put up for disposal as military surplus.

It was one of seven former US Army Otters for sale in a DPDO auction held at Stockton in January 1974. These Otters were described as being in a “rough and ready” condition, with wings removed from the fuselage but included in the sale. Avionics were missing and all had been in outside storage for some time. Harold Hansen, that well known Otter re-builder from Seattle, bought two of these Otters at the auction, 81692 for $11,178 and 53312 (174) for $5,778. The Bill of Sale for both aircraft was dated 15 January 1974 to General Aircraft Supplies, a company belonging to Harold Hansen. Both Otters were trucked from Stockton to his hangar at Boeing Field in Seattle, carried on a special trailer which he had constructed to transport Otters.

At Boeing Field Harold Hansen started work to overhaul both Otters and convert them to civilian configuration. Registrations were requested for both Otters, 53312 allocated N90574 and 81692 allocated N90575. By September 1974 work had been completed on 81692 and it received its Certificate of Airworthiness on 27 September and was formally registered to Harold Hansen as N90575 on 4 December 1974. It was painted at Boeing Field in an all white scheme with blue trim, a blue cheatline and blue tail flash. By Bill of Sale 25 March 1975 Harold Hansen sold the aircraft to Frontier Flying Service of Fairbanks, Alaska but registered a mortgage of $110,000 on the aircraft to secure part of the purchase price. N90575 was noted at the Aeroflite Facilities hangar at the Vancouver International Airport in early July 1975, where it received some work before completing its delivery flight to Fairbanks and entering service with Frontier Flying Service. Harold Hansen’s other Otter N90574 was also sold in Alaska, to a different buyer.

It was unfortunately not long before N90575 was involved in an accident. On 23 September 1975 the Otter was on a cargo run, taking off from the Kuskokwim River en route to Minchumina, in gusty wind conditions, with inoperative flaps. There was insufficient room for the take-off and the Otter collided with a dirt bank in the river, causing substantial damage. The pilot was an experienced individual, with 15,100 hours total time, including 3,600 hours on the Otter. Factors cited in the accident report, in addition to the flaps, were selecting unsuitable terrain, unfavourable wind conditions and failing to abort the take-off.

Harold Hansen travelled to Alaska to fix N90575. He used Otter N98T (181) to fly a set of replacement wings strapped to the side of N98T) to the scene of the crash, so that temporary repairs could be made on site before the Otter was flown back to Boeing Field for permanent repairs. It was noted at Boeing Field in December 1975 undergoing major structural repairs to the fuselage and wings by Sorm Industries who also at that stage installed one of their bulk fuel tanks into the Otter. The work had been completed by March 1976, at which stage N90575 flew back to Fairbanks and re-entered service with Frontier Flying Service, on amphibious floats. In April 1977 the company borrowed money from its bank and re-paid Harold Hansen his mortgage on the Otter. In June 1977 repairs were required to the floats on this hard-working Otter, which were repaired at Fairbanks using material bought from Bristol Aerospace in Winnipeg.

N90575 continued in service with Frontier Flying Service until by Bill of Sale 24 August 1978 it was sold to Laurence and Barbara Maxson, doing business as Maxson Aviation of Kotzebue, Alaska. They bought it to replace their Otter N26641 (134) which had crashed the previous month. ‘Buck’ Maxson was a famous aviator and used his Otter for charter work throughout Western Alaska. N90575 suffered another accident on 1 July 1979 when operated by Maxson Aviation. The Otter had departed from Kotzebue with a load of freight and was landing at Trail Creek when the gear collapsed. Causes cited in the accident report were misjudged speed and distance and failure to initiate a go-around. The damage was repaired and N90575 resumed service with Maxson Aviation, who also operated Otter N5339G (108).

In October 1979 Maxson Aviation agreed to sell both of its Otters, N90575 and N5339G, to High Noon Holdings of Calgary, Alberta which was an aircraft leasing and trading company. In December 1979 both Otters were ferried from Alaska to Calgary, where they were refurbished by Kimba Air Services on behalf of their new owner over that winter. High Noon Holdings then sought a buyer for the aircraft and in March 1980 agreed a sale of N90575 to Air Park Aviation Ltd., of Lac du Bonnet, Manitoba. It was to replace Otter C-GQOX (308) which had been destroyed in a hangar collapse at Lac du Bonnet the previous month. The Otter was prepared for its new owner and painted into their colour scheme of white overall with an orange cheatline and rudder and Air Park Aviation fuselage titles. It was registered to them in June 1980 as C-GMDG and delivered to its new base at Lac du Bonnet.

Air Park Aviation used its Otters to support mining and exploration and during the summer months to support fly-in fishing camps, of which it operated five in eastern Manitoba, at Artery Lake, Bullmoose Lake, Bloodvein River and Sasaginnigak River East and West. The Otter continued to fly for Air Park Aviation until sold to LSD Aviation Ltd., of Fort Frances, Ontario to whom it was registered in January 1983. The price had been $135,000 and the Otter was put on amphibious floats. This acquisition was in connection with the operation of the Otter by Fort Frances Sportsmen Airways Ltd of Fort Frances, to whom it was registered in April 1984, one of a number of Otters flown by this company.

For summer 1984 the Otter was used to fly fishermen during the summer months to Chantrey Inlet Lodge, well within the Arctic Circle, noted for its huge lake trout and arctic char. The company’s Piper Navajo Chieftain would take six fishermen every morning at 5am from Fort Frances Municipal Airport and fly them 1,400 miles straight north to the airport at Baker Lake, landing in the early afternoon. The fishermen would then board Otter MDG for the 170 mile flight to Chantrey Inlet Lodge .  MDG continued to service this Lodge until 1993, when the operation became unprofitable due to the transportation costs. The Otter was then put on straight floats to increase payload and from then on flew fishermen from the Fort Frances base to outlying lakes. During the winter of 1997 / 1998 MDG was converted to a Vazar DHC-3T turbine Otter by the company at its Fort Frances base at a cost of $800,000, and flew alongside turbine Otter C-GUTL (365) and piston Otter C-GBQC (401) in the Fort Frances Sportsmen Airways fleet.

The company was associated with Northern Wilderness Outfitters, for whom it operated the three Otters. The Otters service a large range of cabins throughout Northwestern Ontario – cabins on one lake which is 50 air miles away from Fort Frances, five lakes from 140 / 165 air miles away and ten lakes between 190 / 220 air miles away. They also serve Moose Point Lodge and Shikag Lake. Otter BQC was sold in March 2012 and replaced with turbine Otter C-GMLB (359) which joined the fleet for summer 2014. From then on Otters UTL, MDG and MLB flew for Fort Frances Sportsmen Airways, which remained the position for summer 2017. As usual, the Otters were placed in winter storage at Fort Frances pending the summer 2018 season.

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.