DHC-3 Otter Archive Master Index

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c/n 355

C-GOPP parked at Timmins - CYTS, Ontario.
Photo: Larry Milberry © 05 April 1982 - Karl E. Hayes Collection
C-GOPP serving with the OPP. Location, Sioux Lookout - CYXL, Ontario.
Photo: Keith Fox © 30 June 1982
C-GOPP another grand northern Ontario ramp shot.
Photo: R. Moneta © July 1984 - Michael J. Ody Collection
VH-TLS at Brisbane, Queensland.
Photo: Lenn Bayliss © September 1987 - Karl E. Hayes Collection
VH-TLS at Eagle Farm, aka Brisbane Airport.
Photo: Peter Keating © 01 November 1987 - Karl E. Hayes Collection
C-FIPC parked at Sept-Îles - CYZV, Québec.
Photo: Kenneth I. Swartz © 18 November 1992 - Karl E. Hayes Collection
C-FIPC just before conversion, at Vancouver - CYVR, British Columbia.
Photo: John Kimberley © May 1993 - Karl E. Hayes Collection
N53KA just after conversion, at Vancouver - CYVR, British Columbia.
Photo: John Kimberley © June 1993 - Karl E. Hayes Collection
C-GOPP with HARBOUR AIR, downtown Vancouver.
Photo: Kenneth I. Swartz © 19 August 1999
C-GOPP on the Fraser River.
Photo: Kenneth I. Swartz © 22 August 1999
Photo: Karl E. Hayes © September 1999
C-GOPP with larger windows, in later livery.
Photo: John W. Olafson © 15 October 2011

c/n 355

59-2217 • C-GOPP • VH-TLS • C-FIPC • N53KA



 59-2217 United States Army. Delivered 09-Feb-1960. Designated U-iA.

Assigned initially to the Army Depot at Fort Worth, TX.

Jan-1962. 12th Aviation Company based at Fort Wainwright, AK.

Jan-1972. To the Sharpe Army Depot, Stockton, CA where it went into storage pending disposal.

Apr-1974. deleted from the Army inventory and put up for disposal.

• Un-regd. Purchased by Eclipse Consultants Ltd., Oshawa, ON.

• C-GOPP Government of the Province of Ontario for operation by the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP). Regd Aug-1976. Based at Timmins, ON.

• C-GOPP Minister of Natural Resources, Sault Ste Marie, ON. Re regd date unknown. Canx 05-May-1985.

• C-GOPP Orca Air Ltd., Port McNeill, BC. Regd Jul-1985. Canx 28-Jun-1987 As removed from register.

• VH-TLS Tangalooma Transport Pty., Ltd., trading as Tangalooma Airlines, Brisbane, QLD. Regd circa June 1987. Canx 21-Jun-1990.

Incident. Brisbane, QLD. 24- Dec-1989. Damaged in a storm.

• C-FIPC SOL Air Aviation Inc., Laval, QC. Regd 22-Feb-1991. Canx 10-Jul-1991.

• C-FIPC Alexandair Inc., Sept Îles, QC, Regd 10-Jul-1991. Canx 19-Mar-1992.

• C-FIPC SOL Air Aviation Inc., Laval, QC. Regd 19-Mar-1992. Canx 28-May-1992. Canx 10-Jul-1971.

• C-FIPC Alexandair Inc., Sept Îles, QC. Regd 20-Aug-1992. Canx 14-May-1993.

Power plant: Converted to Vazar turbine by Aeroflite Industries, Vancouver, BC. May / Jun-1993.

• N53KA Ketchikan Air Service Inc., Ketchikan, AK. Regd Jun-1993. Canx 26-Mar-1997.

Incident: Nr Hoover Dam, Colorado River. Colorado. 31 Dec-1995. Forced landing in desert following engine failure caused by disintegration of the turbine's main bearing. Pilot and ten passengers uninjured. Further information below.

• C-GOPP Harbour Air, Richmond, BC. Regd 26-Mar-1997. Canx 04-May-2004. Re regd 02-Jun-2004.


Otter 355 was delivered to the United States Army on 9 February 1960 with serial 59-2217 (tail number 92217). It was assigned initially to the Army Depot at Fort Worth, Texas. By January 1962 it was serving with the 12th Aviation Company based at Fort Wainright, Alaska. It was to spend the rest of its military career flying for this unit. It is mentioned in the unit history on 13 October 1969: “While flying three doctors to Fort Greely in 92217, Mr Brown and Captain Hotmire experienced a rough running engine. Emergency procedures were initiated and a precautionary landing was made at Eielson Air Force Base”. It was mentioned again in February 1970: “One of the Otters, 92217, had been having fuel cell and ignition problems for four months, until the trouble was finally located by an inspection team. A six inch rag was found in the oil screen, thereby preventing oil to reach the sump. The engine had to be replaced because of this”.

92217 continued to fly for the 12th Aviation Company until January 1972 when it flew south to the Sharpe Army Depot, Stockton, California where it went into storage pending disposal. It was deleted from the Army inventory in April 1974 and put up for sale. It was sold to Eclipse Consultants Ltd of Oshawa, Ontario a company which traded in Otters and who sold it on to the Government of the Province of Ontario for operation by the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP). It took the ‘fixed’ registration of C-GOPP in August 1976, after it had been overhauled and prepared for service. It was painted with a white lower fuselage, gold coloured engine cowling and cheatline and blue upper fuselage.

In 1974 the OPP had acquired its first aircraft, a Turbo Beaver registered C-FOEZ, which was based at Sioux Lookout. The second aircraft acquired was the Otter, in August 1976, which was painted into the same colour scheme as the Beaver and was assigned to the North East Patrol Unit, South Porcupine, based at Timmins. It flew on amphibious floats in summer and wheel skis in winter and was used to service the native settlements on the west coast of James Bay and Hudson Bay, bringing and collecting police personnel from and to the settlements. It provided “rotational policing” to such communities as Attawapiskat, Fort Albany, Fort Severn, Kashechewan and Winisk, places which did not have a permanent detachment of police. It was also used for prisoner transport, SAR, emergency services, ambulance and fire support. It participated at the London, Ontario air show in June 1984.

It continued in service until the end of 1984, being withdrawn from use in December after more than eight years police service. It was replaced with Twin Otter C-FTVO. In January 1985 Otter C-GOPP was advertised for sale by sealed bid tender by the Ontario Provincial Government, together with a holding of spare parts. The Otter is mentioned in a book entitled “So you want to be a Ferry Pilot” by Spike Nasmyth, who was the owner of Orca Air, based at Port McNeill, BC on Vancouver Island. Mr Nasmyth travelled to sault Ste.Marie, Ontario where C-GOPP was located. He made an offer of $180,000 Canadian which was accepted and in March 1985 he returned to Sault Ste.Marie to collect the Otter.

C-GOPP’s trans-country delivery routing was first to Wawa, then Thunder Bay-Winnipeg-Regina-Lethbridge (Alberta) and then over the Rocky Mountains to Chilliwack, BC and then to the Orca base at Port McNeill. The Otter was prepared for service at nearby Coal Harbour. The book contains a most readable account of the ferry flight as well as describing the author’s other interesting ferry flights in other aircraft. The Otter remained in its OPP colour scheme and was registered to Orca Air on 5 July 1985 and entered service. The company’s biggest customer was a logging outfit, for which the Otter performed many flights, cargo trips and crew moves around Vancouver Island and along BC’s Pacific Coast. Having flown for Orca Air for nearly two years, the Otter was advertised for sale, and sold to a company in Australia.

In April 1987 the Otter was in Victoria BC being prepared for shipment to Australia, where it had been bought by Tangalooma Transport Pty Ltd, trading as Tangalooma Airlines of Brisbane. It arrived at Archerfield Airport, Brisbane in June 1987 in two crates and was registered to its new owners as VH-TLS. It remained in a hangar during July and August with corroded struts but was ready for service in September 1987 as an amphibian. It retained its OPP colour scheme and at that stage of its career had 7,800 hours on the airframe.

The Otter was used to fly visitors from Brisbane, operating from the Brisbane River downtown location, to the Tangalooma Resort on Moreton Island, 25 miles off the coast. The promotors of the resort were unstinting in its praise: “Once you arrive at the resort on this beautiful island you are greeted with a truly tropical setting, swaying palms fringe the shoreline, clear blue water swarming with myriads of lively fish, large exotic gardens, soft golden sandy beaches stretch as far as the eye can see”. For two years VH-TLS plied between Brisbane and the resort, until it was damaged in a storm which hit Brisbane on 24 December 1989. The Australian registration was cancelled on 21 June 1990 when the damaged Otter was shipped back to Canada in a container. The buyer of the Otter was Sol Air Aviation Inc., of Laval, Québec to whom the Otter was registered C-FIPC in February 1991. This company arranged for the repair of the Otter, after which it was advertised for sale.

The Otter was bought by Alexandair inc of Sept Îles, Québec to whom it was registered, still as C-FIPC in May 1992. It still carried its original OPP colour scheme. C-FIPC joined a number of other Otters in the Alexandair fleet, which were used to fly scheduled passenger services along the North Shore of the Gulf of St.Lawrence. The Otters were on floats in summer and wheel-skis in winter and operated from the water aerodrome on Lac des Rapides at Sept Îles, serving the many communities along the North Shore. Around this time many of these communities were provided with their own airstrips and other carriers moved into the market. As a result Alexandair encountered financial difficulties and a liquidator was appointed. He sold the Otters, including C-FIPC, which was sold to Ketchikan Air Service Inc., of Ketchikan, Alaska.

The Otter left its base at Sept Îles and once again flew across the country, to the Vancouver International Airport where it arrived during May 1993. It entered the Aeroflite Industries hangar where it was converted to a DHC-3T Vazar turbine for its new owners. The PT-6 engine came from N58JH (131)  another of Ketchikan Air Service’s Otters which had been wrecked in the Antarctic the previous year. On completion of the conversion the Otter was registered N53KA in June 1993 to Ketchikan Air Service Inc., and departed Vancouver on 16 June on delivery to Ketchikan. It joined the Ketchikan Air Service fleet of two Otters, three Beavers and single Cessnas, used for charter work out of Ketchikan, including sightseeing flights for cruise ship passengers. It was still in the basic OPP colour scheme, which it had now carried for many years and with several different operators.

With activity at a low ebb in Alaska during the winter months, aircraft are often sent down to the “lower 48” to earn their keep during this lean period. Such was the case with N53KA, which in December 1995 was based at Las Vegas, Nevada. Specifically, on 31 December 1995 it was operating a sightseeing flight tour over the Hoover Dam with ten passengers on board, when the engine quit. Quite a spectacular “prang” followed. The Otter had just crossed over the Colorado River at the south side of the dam and was at 3,500 feet when there was an explosion, with flames leading from the engine and smoke in the cabin. To arrive at the only available landing site in the surrounding desert the pilot had to manoeuvre down between two strings of high voltage power lines, then under another set of power lines, to reach a rutted, bumpy road.

Fortunately the pilot, with over ten thousand hours, was a man of experience who could deal with the situation. As he said later: “I noticed while descending that the embankments and brush along the road were higher than the road bed and I was afraid this might tear up the plane. I had enough lift remaining to get the plane airborne again and touched down a second time at the bottom of the ravine. The plane went right up the other side of the ravine with its wings dragging brush and gravel. Finally the landing gear twisted and the plane came to rest. Everybody walked away without a scratch. That Otter was built like a tank”. A preliminary investigation determined that the failure was caused by disintegration of the turbine’s main bearing. The Otter was repaired and returned to Ketchikan.

During 1996 a Native Corporation from the nearby village of Angoon was negotiating to buy Ketchikan Air Service, whose fleet was being reduced, and as part of that reduction Otter N53KA was sold in February 1997. The company did not last much longer as it was closed down by its new owners the following month. The buyer of the Otter was Harbour Air Ltd., of Vancouver and the Otter was noted at Vancouver on 17 February. It reverted to its original Canadian registration of C-GOPP and was registered as such to Harbour Air on 26 March 1997. It joined the company’s expanding fleet of turbine Otters, used on the scheduled services to Vancouver Island. At first it flew in a predominantly white colour scheme but retaining the blue upper fuselage of its days with the OPP and it was noted still in this scheme at Vancouver in September 1999. It was later repainted into the standard Harbour Air white and yellow colour scheme, with fleet number 305 and it received the panoramic window conversion.

In the course of a long career with Harbour Air a number of incidents have been recorded on CADORS:

26 May 2006 at Vancouver International Airport. OPP had its ELT inadvertently activated by a maintenance crew. Numerous aircraft and Vancouver Harbour Tower Controller reported the ELT for an hour and a half until the Otter departed for Victoria harbour, when the pilot was able to shut the ELT off.

7 September 2006.    N180CD, a Cessna 180, transitted through the Victoria zone without contacting the tower. Otter OPP passed traffic on the aircraft and confirmed its altitude.

3 June 2009.  OPP departing Vancouver Harbour to Victoria Harbour aborted take-off due to a pleasure craft abruptly changing course and cutting him off. The pilot taxied back and departed a few minutes later.

2 February 2012.    OPP flying Vancouver Harbour to Victoria Harbour no radio. OPP squawked transponder code # 7600 over Elk Lake. Company Otter C-GHAS (284) flying behind OPP confirmed OPP was receiving transmissions, indicated by rocking its wings. OPP landed safely.

10 April 2013.   Vancouver Harbour to Nanaimo. OPP departed westbound from Area A in front of the control tower. The tower observed that the left water rudder had partially broken free and was flapping in the slipstream. At 200 feet the water rudder broke free, fell into the water and sank. The Otter made a 180 degree turn over English Bay and returned for a landing. It safely manoeuvred under its own power to the Harbour Air dock.

9 July 2013.  Jazz Aviation Dash 8 C-GGMQ as flight JZA8556 from Victoria to Vancouver, climbed to 3,000 feet and responded to a TCAS Radar Advisory. Traffic was Otter C-GOPP from Victoria Harbour to Vancouver Harbour at 3,500 feet. The Otter reported the Dash 8 in sight.

23 August 2013.  Otter OPP departing Victoria Harbour for Vancouver Harbour, struck two gulls and aborted take-off. No damage. Continued on later.

19 July 2014.  Otter OPP taxying for departure from Victoria Harbour. Reported water rudder issues. Harbour patrol rendered assistance and the Otter returned safely to the dock.

As at March 2018 C-GOPP continued as an active member of the Harbour Air fleet, now in its 21st year of service with the company.

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.