• 58-1703 United States Army. Delivered 06-Mar-1959. Designated U-1A with serial 58-1703.
Delivered to Fort Eustis, Virginia where they joined the Transportation Research & Environmental Operations Group (TREOG). The aircraft operated in Greenland and Panama on cold and hot and humid testing. This continued until Apr-1964.
Apr-1964 – Jan-1966 allocation unknown.
Jan-1966. 18th Aviation Company in Vietnam, serving with 2nd Platoon, Camp Holloway, Pleiku. Later 1st Platoon, Nha Trang.
Incident: Special Forces camp at Thrang Phuc. 05-Aug-1969. Undercarriage damaged on landing. A Chinook collected the Beaver for an under-slung return to its base a few days later but the aircraft was dropped from a height of some 200ft and was destroyed.
Passed to 79th Transportation Company at Qui Nhon to be scrapped.
Otter 305 was delivered to the United States Army on 6th March 1959 with serial 58-1703 (tail number 81703). Otter 316, tail number 81704, was delivered the same day, and both Otters were painted in an overall orange colour scheme. Both Otters were delivered from Downsview to Fort Eustis, Virginia where they joined the Transportation Research & Environmental Operations Group (TREOG), an Army unit which tested Army equipment under different environmental conditions, and which supported scientific research. In April '59 both Otters were flown up to Greenland on board USAF Douglas C-124 Globemasters, where they were based for the summer out of Thule Air Base, and they returned during summer 1960. During this deployment, the two Otters attempted a flight to the North Pole but were thwarted by the weather.
From 1961, Army operations in Greenland were taken over by the Polar Research and Development Centre, and the TREOG Otters were used in support of testing in the hot and humid conditions of Panama, and also missions out of their home base at Fort Eustis. TREOG's use of the Otter continued until April 1964, when the aircraft were assigned to other units. 81703's subsequent military career is unknown, until January 1966 when it was assigned to the 18th Aviation Company in Vietnam. It is mentioned in the unit's history on a number of occasions during 1969. During May of that year it was attached to the 3rd Flight Section, 2nd Platoon located at Camp Holloway, Pleiku in the Central Highlands. On 12th May Captain Daniel Frost and WO1 'Porky' Porter were flying 'Reliable 703'. While climbing out of Ben Het en route to Kontum, the Special Forces camp at Ben Het came under enemy attack. The Otter was struck with one round from a .30 calibre weapon. It went through the main spar but was unnoticed until the aircraft landed at its home field.
On 14th July 1969 CW2 John Holihan was flying 'Reliable 703' en route from Qui Nhon to Nha Trang, where the Otter was then based with the First Platoon. They were flying 'feet wet' and were three miles east of Tuy Hoa AFB. The engine began to run rough and lose power. The pilot cut the engine and made a forced landing at Tuy Hoa without damage to the aircraft. The cause of the engine failure was a broken push rod on the number one cylinder. On 5th August 1969 Captain Close and WO1 Porter badly damaged the landing gear of 81703 while landing at the Special Forces camp at Thrang Phuc. Captain Close stayed at the camp for three days, waiting for a Chinook helicopter to lift the Otter back to base for repair. The Chinook finally arrived and proceeded to drop the Otter from two hundred feet. It was totally destroyed. The wreckage was handed over to the 79th Transportation Company at Qui Nhon to be scrapped.
Full history up to 2005 courtesy of Karl E Hayes © from DHC-3 Otter - A History (CD-ROM 2005)