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 9th February 1960 with serial 59-2217 (tail number 92217). It was assigned initially to the Army Depot at Fort Worth, Texas, but by January 1962 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 13th 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 disposal. It was sold to Eclipse Consultants Ltd., of Oshawa, Ontario, a company which traded in Otters and who sold it to the Government of the Province of Ontario for operation by the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP). It took the 'fixed' registration C-GOPP in August 1976, after it had been refurbished and civilianised, and entered service with the OPP. In police service, it was based at Timmins, Ontario and flew to native settlements on the west coast of James Bay and Hudson Bay. It flew on amphibious floats in summer and wheel skis in winter.
The Otter was sold in 1985 and registered in July of that year to Orca Air Ltd., of Port McNeill, BC on Vancouver Island. In April 1987 the Otter was in Victoria, BC being prepared for shipment to Australia, where it had been sold to 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 was painted in the same attractive blue and orange colour scheme it had worn in police service, and at that stage of its career had some 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, twenty five miles off the coast. The promoters 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 on Moreton Island, until it was damaged in a storm which hit Brisbane on 24th December 1989. The Australian registration was cancelled 21st June 1990 when the damaged Otter was shipped back to Canada. The purchaser of the aircraft was SOL Air Aviation Inc., of Laval, Québec to whom the Otter was registered C-FIPC in February 1991. After repair it was sold to Alexandair Inc., of Sept Îles, Québec to whom it was registered, still as C-FIPC, in May 1992. It was operated by Alexandair, still in its original OPP colour scheme, until it was sold. It arrived in Vancouver in May 1993 for conversion to a Vazar turbine by Aeroflite Industries. On completion of the conversion, it was registered N53KA in June 1993 to Ketchikan Air Service Inc., of Ketchikan, Alaska. It departed Vancouver on 16th June 1993 on delivery to Ketchikan, fully painted in the colours of its new operator.
With activity usually 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 31st December, it was operating a flight-seeing tour over the Hoover Dam with ten passengers on board, when the engine quit and 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 leaping 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 10,000 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.
In February 1997 the Otter was sold to Harbour Air Ltd. It reverted to its original Canadian registration of C-GOPP and was first noted as such in Vancouver on 17th February 1997. It joined Harbour Air's expanding fleet of turbine Otters, used on their scheduled services to Vancouver Island. It was registered to Harbour Air on 26th March 1997, and painted in their colour scheme. It continues to fly for Harbour Air.
Full current history courtesy of Karl E Hayes including detail from his CD-ROM, DHC-3 Otter - A History (CD-ROM 2005)
Additional later note by Karl Hayes.
This Otter is mentioned in a much-recommended 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. In January 1985 the Otter was advertised for sale by sealed-bid tender by its then owners, the Ontario Provincial Police, together with a holding of spare parts. Mr Nasmyth travelled to Sault Ste.Marie where CGOPP 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 his Otter. The delivery routing was first to Wawa then Thunder Bay-Winnipeg-Regina-Lethbridge and over the Rockies to Chilliwack, BC and then to the company’s base at Port McNeill. The Otter was prepared for service at nearby Coal Harbour. The book contains a most readable account of the flight as well as describing the author’s many interesting ferry flights in other aircraft. Otter OPP served with Orca Air for nearly two years on charter work. The company’s biggest customer was a logging company, for which the aircraft performed many flights, cargo trips and crew moves. Orca Air then sold the Otter to the Tangalooma Resort in Australia. The Otter was subsequently returned to Canada and now flies as a Vazar turbine Otter with Harbour Air, Vancouver, fleet # 305