• 59-1712 United States Army. Delivered 26-May-1959.
Initially allocated to the 18th Aviation Company, Fort Riley, KS.
Jan-1962. Travelled with the Company to Vietnam.
Mar-1966. Returned to USA for overhaul at the Army Aeronautical Depot Maintenance Centre (ARADMAC) Depot, Corpus Christi, TX.
May-1966. Returned to Vietnam for the 18th Aviation Company.
Jun-1969. Transhipped back to US.
Aug-1969. Arrived at Sharpe Army Depot, Stockton. CA for temporary storage.
Jun-1970. To an (currently unknown) Army National Guard Unit.
Nov-1970. Returned to Sharpe Army Depot, Stockton. CA.
May-1971. To Fort Greely, AK as a test support aircraft with the Army Test & Evaluation Command, Arctic Test Center.
Aug-1973. Attached to the Headquarter's Detachment, AK., Army National Guard at Fort Richardson.
Accident. Ft. Richardson, AK. 22-Aug-1973. On a short final for a short field landing, the aircraft stalled and fell from twenty feet altitude fifteen feet short of the runway, causing damage to the tailwheel.
Mar-1975 Deleted from the Army inventory.
• Un regd. Civil Air Patrol, Alaska Wing. It was not however used by the CAP, but was stored at their base at Ten Mile Pond outside Anchorage, lying in the open (See also c/n 270).
• C-GLFL William Bennett dba Gander Aviation Ltd., Gander, NL. Regd circa Jul-1975. See below for story of delivery flight.
• C-GLFL Air Gava Ltée., Schefferville, QC. Circa 1977.
Power plant: The aircraft was re-engined with a Polish PZL-3S engine by Airtech Canada at their Peterborough, Ontario facility.
Total time. 9,368 hours at 1981.
• C-GLFL Air Saguenay (1980) Inc., Chicoutimi / Lac St. Sebastien, QC. Regd Apr-1984.
• Current •
Otter 329 was delivered to the United States Army on 26th May 1959 with serial 58-1712 (tail number 81712). It was first assigned to the 18th Aviation Company, Fort Riley, Kansas and travelled with the Company to Vietnam in January 1962. It continued flying with the Company until March 1966, when it returned to the United States for depot level overhaul at the ARADMAC depot, Corpus Christi, Texas. On completion of the work in May 1966 it went back to Vietnam and re-joined the 18th Aviation Company. It continued to serve until June 1969 when it returned to the United States, arriving at the Sharpe Army Depot, Stockton. California in August 1969.
81712 remained in storage at Stockton until June 1970 when along with 81713 (330) which had also returned from Vietnam, it was issued to an Army National Guard unit. Both Otters served with this unit until November 1970, when they were both returned to storage at Stockton. In May 1971, both of these Otters headed north to Alaska, to continue with their Army careers, although they served with different units. 81712 was assigned to Fort Greely, Alaska where it replaced 81720 (339) as a test support aircraft with the Army Test & Evaluation Command, Arctic Test Center. It continued to serve at Fort Greely until August 1973, when it joined the Headquarter's Detachment, Alaska Army National Guard at Fort Richardson.
An incident was recorded shortly after it arrived at Fort Richardson. On 22nd August 1973, on short final for a short field landing, the Otter stalled and fell from twenty feet altitude fifteen feet short of the runway, causing damage to the tailwheel. The damage was repaired. 81712 continued serving at Fort Richardson until March 1975 when it was deleted from the Army inventory and transferred to the Alaska Wing of the Civil Air Patrol. It was not however used by the CAP, but was stored at their base at Ten Mile Pond outside Anchorage, lying in the open alongside Otter 76128 (270), another ex Army Otter which had been transferred to the CAP but also not used. The Alaska Wing of the CAP was at the time somewhat under-funded, and greatly welcomed the receipt of former Army aircraft such as the Otters, which could be sold. Both of these Otters were advertised for sale, and purchased by Mr William Bennett, owner of Gander Aviation Ltd, of Gander, Newfoundland.
Bill Bennett and two engineers travelled to Anchorage to view the Otters at Ten Mile Pond. They found 76128 to be in a dilapidated condition, but with a good engine. 81712 was in better shape, but the engine was shot, so they set about transferring the engine from 76128 into 81712. Canadian registrations had been reserved for the two Otters, C-GLFK for 76128 and C-GLFL for 81712. 76128 was not in flyable condition, so it was dismantled, packed into a container and shipped to Vancouver and then by rail and truck to Gander for re-build. 81712 however was made airworthy, and prepared for an epic, history making ferry flight all the way from Anchorage to Gander, a distance of 6,200 miles. The Otter was on floats, painted in the Army olive drab colour scheme, and marks C-GLFL were crudely applied to the fuselage side. They set off on Friday 4th July 1975 and their routing was Ten Mile Pond, Anchorage-Whitehorse, Yukon-Yellowknife-Hay River-Uranium City, Saskatchewan- God's Lake Narrows, Manitoba-a small lake in Ontario-Ottawa-Sept Îles-St. Augustin, Québec-Gander. Bill Bennett flew the Otter and was accompanied by his two engineers.
As a newspaper article reported: “The route home took Mr Bennett and his crew across Alaska, through the Yukon Territory, into the Northwest Territories and from there to northern Manitoba and northern Ontario and finally into Québec and Newfoundland. The trip was described as very exciting, as they flew over glaciers and through spectacular mountain passes. They experienced excellent flying weather until northern Ontario, where they hit hot muggy weather which reduced visibility considerably. As soon as they approached the Quebec north shore they were socked in by fog and were forced to spend one day and night in Sept Îles. They arrived in Gander on Thursday 10th July 1975, having flown 52 hours over seven days to complete the 6,200 mile journey.”
The addition of the Otter increased the fleet of Gander Aviation Ltd., to nine aircraft. After it was overhauled, the Otter and two Beavers were sent to Labrador, where they were used to move fuel for helicopters along the transmission line being constructed from the Lower Churchill to Newfoundland, in conjunction with the development of the Lower Churchill Falls Trans Labrador power line. C-GLFL continued to fly for Gander Aviation Ltd until sold to Air Gava Ltée., of Schefferville, Québec in 1977. It served the bush country of northern Quebec from its base at Schefferville. It was re-engined with a Polish PZL-3S engine by Airtech Canada at their Peterborough, Ontario facility on behalf of Air Gava, but Air Gava ceased trading due to financial difficulties in 1981 before they re-took delivery of their re-engined Otter.
C&S Enterprises Ltd., aircraft brokers, of Ontario were appointed to sell Air Gava's fleet of aircraft, including its three Otters C-FQMN (184), C-GLFL (329) and C-GLCR (425). “Steal these bank repossessions” proclaimed their advertisement. Otter LFL had at that stage of its career a total airframe time of 9,368 hours, and with a new Certificate of Airworthiness had an asking price of $195,000 Canadian. The purchaser of the Otter was Air Saguenay (1980) Inc of Chicoutimi Lac St. Sebastien, Québec, to whom LFL was registered in April 1984. Air Saguenay arranged for it to be re-engined with the Polish PZL one thousand horse power engine, and repainted in their striking red colour scheme. It continued to serve the Quebec bush country, and twenty years later was still in active service with Air Saguenay, part of its large Otter fleet.
Full history up to 2005 courtesy of Karl E Hayes © from DHC-3 Otter - A History (CD-ROM 2005)