DHC-3 Otter Archive Master Index

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c/n 339

58-1720 when residing at MASDC.
Photo: Arnold Booy © August 1972 - Karl E. Hayes Collection
N41755 of Loma Linda University Medical Centre.
Photo: Unknown photographer © November 1976 - Karl E. Hayes Collection
C-FHAX at the Fraser River seaplane dock.
Photo: Warwick Bigsworth © December 2007
C-FHAX with Harbour Air at Vancouver - CYVR, British Columbia.
Photo: John W. Olafson © 15 October 2011
C-FHAX departs again.
Photo: John W. Olafson © 11 July 2013
C-FHAX arrives at Coal Harbour CXH - Vancouver.
Photo: John W. Olafson © 14 September 2014
C-FHAX wearing promotional scheme.
Photo: Kenneth I. Swartz © 22 March 2022

c/n 339

58-1720 • N41755



• 58-1720. United States Army. Delivered 09-Oct-1959. Designated U-1A.

Initially delivered to the Arctic Test Center, Army Test & Evaluation Command, at Fort Greely, AK., as a support aircraft.

Nov-1971. Military Aircraft Storage and Disposition Center, (MASDC), Davis- Monthan AFB., Tucson, AZ. Inventory code UA 001.

• Un-regd Passed to Loma Linda University Medical Center, Loma Linda, CA., by the US Government for use as an air ambulance.

Note: Converted to civilian configuration byAero Support Facilities Inc., Paine Field, Seattle, WA.

Total time. 3,342 hours at Oct-1972.

• N41755 Loma Linda University Medical Center, Loma Linda, CA. Regd 06-Mar-1974.

Airworthiness date. 29-Mar-1974.

• N41755 Warren W. Woods of Palmer, AK. Regd Jan-1978.

Incident; Palmer, AK. 20th June 1989. Forced landing following structural failure of the horizontal stabiliser. Landed safely without damage.

• N41755 Woods Air Fuel Inc., Palmer. AK. Regd 27-Sep-1989.Canx 24-Jan-2006

Accident: Ninety nautical miles south of Mount McKinley to a mining strip on the west side of the Alaska Mountain Range 22-Jul-1992. Suffered a forced landing after an engine fire occurred. The pilot and sole passenger escaped uninjured. The story of its attempted recovery and subsequent history shown below.

Total time: 10,587 hours at time of accident.

Power plant. Converted to Vazar turbine by Aeroflite Industries Ltd., South Terminal, Vancouver International Airport during winter 2005–2006.. Powered by one 750-shp Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-34 turboprop engine with constant-speed, full-feathering reversible-pitch, three-blade Hartzell propelle

• C-FHAX Harbour Air, Vancouver, BC. Regd 25-Jan-2006.

Modifications. Edo 7490 straight floats, Vazar bubble scenic cabin windows, bubble rear cabin windows, ventral fin under tail.


Otter 339 was delivered to the United States Army on 9 October 1959 with serial 58-1720 (tail number 81720). It was delivered from Downsview to the Arctic Test Centre, Army Test & Evaluation Command at Fort Greely, Alaska as a support aircraft. It replaced Otter 53296 (152) which was then assigned to Fort Wainright, Alaska.  81720 was destined to spend the rest of its long military career with the Arctic Test Centre. It continued in service until November 1971, when it flew south into retirement in the storage compounds at Davis-Monthan AFB., Arizona. It was the first of five Army Otters to be placed into storage there and received the PCN (Product Control Number)  UA001.

It did not remain in storage all that long, and on 27 October 1972 was transferred by the US government to Loma Linda University Medical Centre, of Loma Linda, California for use as an air ambulance. It left Davis-Monthan on 31 October 1972 and was flown to Paine Field, Seattle where it was to be converted to a civilian aircraft by Aero Support Facilities Inc. The Otter had total airframe time at that stage of 3,342 hours, from the twelve years it had spent flying in Alaska. Work progressed slowly but on 6 March 1974 the Otter was registered to the Loma Linda University Medical Centre as N41755 and its Certificate of Airworthiness was granted on 29 March 1974. During July/September 1974 Air Comm Systems of Rialto, California installed new radios and navaids, to equip it for its role as an air ambulance and it flew for the Medical Centre during 1975, 1976 and 1977, painted in a green and white colour scheme.

By Bill of Sale dated 2 January 1978 the Otter was sold to Warren W.Woods of Palmer, Alaska, who operated a fuel hauling business. The Otter was converted with a bulk fuel tank and entered service alongside Otter N48148 (115) and PBY N9521C. The Otters could carry 400 US gallons each and the PBY 1,500 US gallons and the aircraft operated all over Alaska delivering fuel to customers. Warren “Buddy” Woods started business in 1962 doing mapping surveys for the Bureau of Land Management in Alaska, with an Aeronca Chief. That business developed into a fleet of helicopters and he made use of Otters to provide fuel for the helicopters. In the past he operated Otters N90574 (174) and N48064 (278). He then went into the fuel hauling business using Otters, a DC-3 and a C-46 and later the PBY and a DHC-4 Caribou. Sadly Buddy Woods was killed on 20 March 1986 when the Caribou N539Y crashed on approach to Lime Village, Alaska on a flight from Palmer. His family continued the business using the Otter, the DC-3, a Super Cub and a Cessna 185.

While flying for Woods Air Fuel Otter N41755 had an incident on 31 August 1982, an engine failure resulting in a forced landing on a sandbar in the Kuskokwim River near Skwentna. It struck a log folding the main gear. Total time at that stage had increased to 6,754 hours. It was repaired and returned to service. On 20 June 1989 on take off from Palmer, the Otter pitched abruptly nose down following an in-flight failure of the horizontal stabilizer’s trim actuator jack screws. The pilot was able to maintain control of the Otter and make a successful landing by exerting a large amount of back pressure on the control wheel and adding nearly full engine power. An examination of the actuator revealed an inadequate amount of lubricating grease and excessive part wear. The aircraft landed safely and no damage was done but it had been a “close run thing”. On 27 September 1989 the Otter and other aircraft were transferred to a limited company, Woods Air Fuel Inc. The fleet at that stage, as well as the Otter and a Cessna 206, comprised two DC-3s N50CM and N777YA and a DC-6 N400UA.

The Otter continued in service with Woods Air Fuel until an accident in July 1992. Dick Lochner, the company’s chief pilot, describes what happened: “On 22 July 1992 N41755 was involved in an accident while hauling supplies from Nikolai, Alaska about ninety miles south of Mount McKinley, to a mining strip on the west side of the Alaska Mountain Range. The strip had been cut out of a ridge adjacent to the Windy Fork River and was 700 feet long with an approximate six percent up-slope. One way in and one way out and being at the base of the mountain was very challenging. Whether the winds were on the windward side of the mountain or the leeward side, they were always crosswinds and always presented a great challenge to the pilot”.

“The pilot, a former Navy carrier pilot, was letting down for a straight-in approach to the strip when an engine fire occurred. The real problem was that the fire burned through an accessory section and he lost control of the throttle, propeller and mixture. His power setting for the let down was not sufficient to make the strip so his only alternative was to accept what power he had and dive through the top of a stand of trees to make a sand bar in the river bed. He shut down the engine with magnetos and turned off all electrical as he made contact with Mother Earth. He did a magnificent job of putting it down in the riverbed below the bluff of the strip. But the emergency landing was not without consequences. As is typical of this situation, the right landing gear came up through the fuselage and the right wing spar broke and the right wing curled up. The pilot, passenger and some of the crew from the mining camp who witnessed the crash and came running to the scene, managed to put out the fire with a fire extinguisher and by throwing dirt and river silt on the fire until it was out”.

“After the pilot was recovered and the load delivered to the mining camp, the Otter was tied down to some “dead men” (logs buried in the river bed) until plans could be made for its recovery. Unfortunately, the unpredictable winds of Alaska reared their ugly head. Winds estimated at seventy knots put the Otter in the air for one last flight. Tie downs, bent wing, collapsed gear and all. Father Wind picked up N41755 about thirty feet in the air and put her back down about thirty yards down the river bed on her back. We now had two broken wing spars, a crushed fuselage and empennage and the engine efficiently separated from what was once a beautiful air machine”.

“The recovery of all the parts and pieces took several months due to the heavy snow and wind conditions. The ‘carcass’ was eventually brought out using snow machines and sleds to a larger strip some 30 miles from the crash site. From here the wrecked Otter was flown back to Palmer by a Northern Air Cargo “swing-tail” DC-6. N41755’s broken body was put in the back corner of the Woods Air hangar and pretty much left to rest in peace for several years. After a few years the owner decided to resurrect the old girl and start putting her back together again. Work was to be accomplished during slow periods in the day to day activities of the normal fuel hauling operations. The slow process of restoration was made even slower by this approach. This went on for several years but progress on the rebuild project came to a complete halt on 18 April 2000 when Woods Air Fuel went out of business. Although the owner had a zero time engine and propeller and had all of the sheet metal and most of the parts in place to complete the job, the pressures of the business world over-whelmed the good intentions”.

What had happened was that on that day, the Federal Aviation Administration had revoked the operating certificate of Woods Air Fuel for violations of Federal Aviation Regulations pertaining to maintenance and operations, causing the immediate closure of the company. As a FAA press release stated: “Woods Air Service and Woods Air Fuel were cited for using unqualified persons to perform maintenance, using an unauthorised person to approve an aircraft return to service, careless or reckless operations that endangered the life or property of others, fraudulent or intentional falsification of required maintenance records and operation of unairworthy aircraft”. A sad end to such a long-standing operation, which had served the communities of Alaska so well.

There was an auction for the assets of Woods Air Fuel on 17 January 2001 but the Otter did not sell. Tesoro Alaska Petroleum Company held a lien on the Otter for unpaid bills and had specified a minimum bid of $100,000. Two bids were made on the Otter but were declared too low and refused. “So N41755 still occupied the back corner of a darkened hangar waiting for some loving new owner to come along and put her back in the air”.  The Otter was eventually sold, to Harbour Air of Vancouver in November 2005, and was trucked all the way from Palmer to the Vancouver International Airport where, over the winter of 2005 / 2006 it was rebuilt by Aeroflite Industries and at the same time converted to a Vazar turbine Otter with panoramic windows. It was registered to Harbour Air Ltd, Vancouver as C-FHAX on 25 January 2006, painted into the company’s yellow and white colour scheme and, after more than thirteen years on the ground, entered service as fleet # 313.

In the years that followed HAX has continued to fly as part of Harbour Air’s large fleet of turbine Otters, providing scheduled commuter services from Vancouver to points on Vancouver Island. Over the winter of 2012/13 it was repainted into the new company scheme of white fuselage with blue tail, yellow HA on the tail and Harbour Air titles, and continues to fly in that colour scheme.

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.