DHC-3 Otter Archive Master Index

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c/n 361

9404 serving with the RCAF.
Photo:Unknown photographer © October 1975 - Michael J. Ody Collection
C-GVDM of ADLAIR, at Yellowknife.
Photo: MAP © Date unknown - Karl E. Hayes Collection
C-GVDM with Geraldton Air.
Photo: Robert S. Grant © August 1993 - Aird Archives
N361TT before turbine installation by Kal-Air at Vernon - CYVK, British Columbia.
Photo: John W. Olafson © 18 March 2003
N361TT after installation, ready to go.
Photo: John W. Olafson © 06 June 2003

c/n 361

9404 • C-GVDM



• 9404 Royal Canadian Air Force. Delivered 12-May-1960. Designated as CSR-123.

Allocated to 400 Squadron, CFB Downsview, ON.

Accident: Fredericton, NB 14th July 1964. Aircraft stalled on landing and damaged and the starboard landing gear strut was forced into the fuselage.

07-Jul-1965. Returned to 400 Squadron, CFB Downsview, ON

23-Sep-1965. At Trenton (on the Bench) as a reserve for service with the United Nations 117 Sqaudron in Kashmir. However not required.

May 1966 it was returned to 6 Repair Depot and re-assembled.

11-Oct-1966. 418 Sqd. Namao AB, Edmonton, AB.

31-Oct-1975.Re-joined 400 Squadron at CFB Downsview.

Jun-1977. Deployed to the Northwest Territories on floats, based on King William Island, to support a naval diving expedition searching for the missing ships of the Franklin Expedition.

Note Interestingly one of the lost ships had recently been found in Sep-2016. Some forty years afterwards.

Feb-1982. Into storage at CFB Mountain View, ON., to be disposed of by the Crown Assets Disposal Corporation (CADC).

• Un-regd Mike Hackman Aircraft Sales, Edmonton, AB. Purchased for $51,111.

Total time: 7,486 hours

• C- GVDM Adlair Aviation (1983) Ltd., Yellowknife, NT. Based Cambridge Bay, NT. Regd June 1983 Canx 11-Jun-1986. Regd 11-Dec-1986. Canx 18-May-1993.

• C- GVDM Geraldton Air Ltd., Geraldton, ON. Regd 18-May-1993. Canx 10-May-1995.

• C- GVDM River Air Ltd., Kenora, ON. Regd 20-Jun-1995. Canx 08-Aug-1995.

• C- GVDM Labrador Airways Ltd., Goose Bay, NL. Regd 15-Nov-1995. Canx 10-Jun-1997.

• C- GVDM Northern Light Air Ltd., Smithers, BC. Based Watson Lake, YT. Regd 10-Jun-1997. Canx 27-Apr-1998. Canx 06-Jan-1999.

• C- GVDM 1191517 Ontario Ltd., Thunder Bay, ON Regd 22-Jan-1999. Canx 30-Jun-1999.

• C- GVDM Johnny May’s Air Charter Ltd, Kuujjuaq, Regd 30-Jun-1999. Canx 27-Jun-2000 on export to USA.

Total time: 11,806  hours at Apr-2000.

• N361TT Kakeldy Leasing Corporation, Anchorage, AK. Regd 05-Jul-2000..

• N361TT Renew Air Taxi, Dillingham, AK. Circa 2003. Actual dates unknown.

Power plant: Texas Turbine conversion # 8. Texas Turbine Conversions, Inc., Denison, TX. The engine was installed by June 6, 2003 by Kal-Air, of Vernon, BC..

• N361TT Servant Air, Kodiak. AK. Dates unknown.

Note. Also quoted as Paklook Air Inc, Kodiak, AK

Accident. Near Heitman Lake, AK. 23-Sep-2011 Operating with Servant Air on a flight from Old Harbour, AK to Kodiak Airport, AK.. The aircraft sustained substantial damage in an accident near Heitman Lake, near Mile 14 of the Chiniak Highway, Kalsin Bay, AK, six miles south of Kodiak, AK. The pilot was killed and the two passengers suffered serious injuries. The airplane struck a tree and terrain during a go-around at Heitman Lake. PROBABLE CAUSE: "The pilot’s failure to maintain clearance from a tree during a low altitude maneuver and his failure to maintain control of the airplane. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s use of over-the-counter sedating medications. ANC11FA107.

• N361TT Shown as expired 31-Mar-2012.

Written off

Otter 361 was delivered to the RCAF on 12 May 1960 with serial 9404. It was allocated to 400 Squadron at Downsview, so did not have far to travel to reach its unit! It was to spend some years flying for 400 Squadron. A minor accident was recorded on 14 July 1964 when some of the Squadron’s Otters and Expeditors were deployed to Fredericton, New Brunswick on summer camp. On landing that day at Fredericton the Otter stalled in heavily on one wheel and bounced in a nose-high attitude. The weight configuration was such as to prevent the application of power from being effective. The starboard landing gear strut was forced into the fuselage.

As the accident report found: “The pilot rounded out high and held the nose too high. After the bounce in a nose-high attitude and full power, he was behind the power curve”. The Otter was taken to 6 Repair Depot at Mountain View and repaired. It then remained in storage at Mountain View until re-issued to 400 Squadron on 7 July 1965. On 23 September 1965 it went to Trenton as a spare aircraft, in case one was required for service on United Nations duty with 117 ATU in Kashmir. By 18 January 1966 it had been moved to Saskatoon, the wings removed, put in a “cradle” ready to be airlifted to Kashmir by Hercules.

In the event it was not required and in May 1966 it was returned to 6 Repair Depot and re-assembled. In July 1966 it returned to Saskatoon and on 11 October 1966 it headed west on its next assignment, to 418 Squadron at Namao Air Base, Edmonton, Alberta.  9404 served for nine years with 418 Squadron, until 31 October 1975 when it re-joined 400 Squadron at Downsview. It was again an active member of the Squadron for more than six years. During the summer of 1977 it deployed to the Northwest Territories on floats, based on King William Island to support a naval diving expedition searching for the missing ships of the Franklin Expedition.

As the Canadian military use of the Otter was coming to an end during 1981, 9404 was selected to fly the Eastern section of the Otter’s nationwide farewell tour. During August 1981 the Otter had been stationed at Goose Bay where Captain Don Eddie of 400 Squadron had spent a week flying between Goose and the military fishing camp at No Name Lake. He set off from Goose on 3 August 1981 on the first stage of the commemorative flight, routing that day to Gander and on to St.Johns. The next day 9404 flew on to Stephenville and then on to CFB Summerside on Prince Edward Island. August 5 routing was CFB Summerside-Charlottetown-CFB Shearwater-Fredericton (the scene of 9404’s hard landing back in 1964) and finally on 6 August it flew from Fredericton to Quebec City and back to base at Downsview. The farewell tour to the West Coast and back was completed with 9415 (393) the following month.

The Otter remained with 400 Squadron until February 1982. As Captain Eddie wrote: “I flew 9404 in a formation of two Otters from Downsview to Mountain View, near CFB Trenton, on 23 February 1982. These were the last two Otters from Downsview”. Truly this was the end of an era. 9404 went into storage at Mountain View, to be disposed of by the Crown Assets Disposal Corporation. It was one of seven Otters sold at auction in September 1982, advertised as having total airframe time of 7,486 hours. It was one of four Otters purchased at the auction by aircraft broker Mike Hackman of Edmonton, the others being serials 26, 357 and 393. With a crew of friends he went to the Mountain View Depot to collect them, having obtained a ferry permit for a flight to Edmonton. Marks C-GVDM had been allocated to 9404. They left Mountain View on 28 November 1982 and their routing was to Port Huron-Battle Creek, Michigan-La Crosse, Wisconsin-Pierre, South Dakota-Glasgow, Montana to Edmonton, where they arrived 5 December 1982. As Mr Hackman later recounted: “We caused quite a stir, these four Otters arriving in Edmonton in formation”.

Mike Hackman’s company was Mike Hackman Aircraft Sales and it had bought Otter 361 for $51,111. It was sold on by Bill of Sale 9 May 1983 to Estabrook Construction Ltd., of Grimshaw, Alberta and leased the same day to Adlair Aviation Ltd., of Cambridge Bay, Northwest Territories, being registered on 11 May 1983 to Adlair Aviation Ltd as C-GVDM. This was a company established by well known aviator Willy Laserich, who had emigrated from Germany to Canada in the 1950s. He had established Adlair Aviation at Cambridge Bay in a very remote part of the Northwest Territories, where the Otter would serve for the next ten years. It was delivered from Edmonton to Cambridge Bay and was flown in basic Canadian military colours but with the engine cowling painted all yellow and Adlair titles on the rear fuselage. “Chilly Willy” and a cartoon character featured on the cockpit door. The company was re-structured as Adlair Aviation (1983) Ltd and the Otter was registered to this entity on 1 March 1984. Although originally operated on lease, Adlair Aviation bought the Otter from the leasing company in 1986.

Being the only Otter based at Cambridge Bay C-GVDM was kept busy. One of its regular taskings was to fly out to where fishermen had caught their fish (arctic char) and fly the fish back to the processing plant at Cambridge Bay. It also flew hunters (for caribou and muskox). It often flew north to Rae Point on Melville Island where polar bear hunting took place. It often flew with a canoe strapped to the floats. It flew on charter to exploration companies who were searching for minerals, to establish their camps and move the camps. Government officials were flown on inspection tours. It flew many search-and-rescue flights and medevacs. The Otter went to Yellowknife for its maintenance. After Adlair had acquired a Beaver and a Twin Otter, it was decided to sell the Otter, the sale being entrusted to the broker Mike Hackman of Edmonton, who had originally acquired this Otter from the Canadian military.

In January 1992 C-GVDM was advertised for sale by Mike Hackman Aircraft Sales. The advert read: “Was purchased by us from the Canadian military. Aircraft still painted in military colours. Needs paint and interior spruce-up. Excellent condition. Current ADs. Total time 9,588 hours. Good 7170 floats, wheel skis also available. Sale price US$225,000”. By Bill of Sale 15 July 1992 the Otter was sold to aircraft brokers C&S Enterprises, on behalf of a leasing company, who by lease of the same day leased it to Geraldton Air Ltd. It was collected from Cambridge Bay and flown south to its new base at Geraldton, Ontario, where it entered service alongside C-GLQX (362), both Otters serving the bush country of Ontario with Geraldton Air.

While flying for Geraldton Air on floats an incident was recorded at Miska Lake, Ontario on 11 September 1994. When power was applied during the approach to land on the lake there was no response from the engine. The Otter landed hard on the water and bounced back into the air. This time, when power was applied, the engine responded and the Otter climbed away. The pilot decided to fly back to Geraldton to have the Otter inspected. Slight buckling of the fuselage in the vicinity of the forward cabin bulkhead was noted. Carburettor icing was suspected as the cause of the temporary loss of engine power. The damage was repaired.

C-GVDM continued to fly for Geraldton Air until January 1995. On 10 May 1995 it was registered to and flew for River Air Ltd of Minaki, Ontario on lease until 23 July 1995, based at Pistol Lake, Minaki. On 1 August 1995 it was leased by the leasing company to Air Scheffervile until 31 October 1995, based out of Schefferville, Quebec. However the lease was cancelled on 21 September due to lack of work for the aircraft and the following day it was ferried to Goose Bay, Labrador and went on lease to Labrador Airways Ltd., to whom it was registered on 15 November 1995, this company trading as Air Labrador. The Otter was involved in an incident on 29 April 1996 at Pence Lake, Labrador. On landing the tail ski got caught in the slush covered lake and was torn off. The tail gear was replaced but on take off from laid-down plywood sheets, one broke loose and damaged the horizontal stabiliser. This was replaced and the Otter flown back to Goose Bay for repair. By November 1996 VDM’s total time had increased to 10,903 hours.

In May 1997 C-GVDM crossed the country to its next operator, Northern Lights Air Ltd of Watson Lake, Yukon on lease. Here it joined Otter C-FMPY (324). It continued in operation from Watson Lake until the end of the summer 1998 season and was then returned to the leasing company, which was 11915170 Ontario Ltd (Piper Martin Air Partnership Number One) to whom the Otter was registered in January 1999.  VDM was next leased to Johnny May’s Air Charter Ltd by lease dated June 1999 and moved to its new baser of Kuujjuaq (Fort Chimo) in remote northern Quebec.

While flying for Johnny May’s Air Charter, an incident was recorded on 29 June 1999 and although the Otter was not damaged, it certainly could have been. VDM had taken off from Lac Tasioulujjuak and was returning to base at Kuujjuaq at an altitude of three thousand feet. The pilot experienced health problems and lost consciousness for some minutes. When he came around he found himself at 5,700 feet and had strayed from his course. He attempted to contact other aircraft and eventually succeeded in raising an Air Inuit flight which had just taken off from Povungnituk. He informed the flight of his difficulties and that he was making an emergency landing on a lake but couldn’t give his exact position. Immediately after making a successful landing the pilot lost consciousness again. The downed Otter was found two days later on a lake forty miles north of Lac Minto by a rescue helicopter, which brought the pilot to hospital at Kuujjuaq. The Otter was later retrieved and continued in service with Johnny May’s Air Charter until the end of the 1999 summer season.

In April 2000 C-GVDM was advertised for sale by its owners through C&S Aircraft Sales with a total time at that stage of 11,806 hours on the airframe. It was sold to Kakeldey Leasing Corporation of Anchorage by Bill of Sale dated 14 June 2000, to whom it was registered N361TT in July 2000. This was a leasing company which leased out its aircraft to other operators and outfitting companies. It  was owned by Ron Kakeldey, a retired airline captain living in Anchorage who also owned two other Otters which were also leased out. In May 2001 N361TT went on an initial three year lease to Renew Air Taxi of Dillingham, Alaska who would operate it alongside a Cessna 185.

According to the Renew Air Taxi website: “During May to October time we are operating out of Aleknagik Lake, Dillingham.  Aleknagik is part of the Wood Tikchik State Park, one and a half million acres of pristine wilderness accessed only by air for fishing, rafting, hunting and ecotours. We also access the Togiak Nation Refuge and Katmai National Park”. In March 2003 the Otter arrived at Vernon, BC for conversion to a turbine Otter by Kal Air, becoming Texas Turbine conversion # 8. It emerged from the hangar in early June 2003 with the Garrett TPE-331 engine, having also been modified with a Baron STOL kit. It was put on amphibious floats and departed back to its base at Dillingham, Alaska where it would continue to fly for Renew Air Taxi on lease for a further eight years.

In January 2011 it was advertised for sale by its owners. According to the advert, the Otter was “currently leased (to Renew Air Taxi) but could be made available”. It had 14,594 hours total time (3,405 hours since conversion to turbine in June 2003), was on EDO 7490 amphibious floats and had an asking price of US$1.5m. It did not sell at that time but continued flying for Renew Air Taxi until May 2011, at which stage it was leased by its owners to Paklook Air Inc, based at Kodiak – State Airport on Kodiak Island, Alaska.  Sadly its period of operation with this company was not long, for the Otter crashed on Friday 23 September 2011 not far from Kodiak.

The accident happened at 7:30pm that evening at Kalsin Bay, some five miles south of Kodiak, an area of rolling hills and tundra, while the Otter was en route to Kodiak State Airport from the village of Old Harbour. The pilot, well-known Alaskan bush pilot James Andie, had earlier flown N361TT to Old Harbour, dropping off passengers and freight, before the return flight to Kodiak. He had on board a company employee, who was in the right hand cockpit seat, and one passenger in the cabin. The crash site was at Heitman Lake, at Mile 14 of the Chiniak Highway.

As the subsequent NTSB report described: “During the flight to Kodiak, the pilot decided to land at Heitman Lake, for no particular reason. After making an approach to the lake but before touching down, the pilot decided to proceed to Kodiak without landing. The pilot flew low over the surface of the lake toward a “V” shaped notch at the east end of the lake. As the Otter flew through the notch, the left wing hit a tree. After this initial impact, the pilot reacted by pulling back hard on the control yoke and rolling the aircraft to the right. As the aircraft entered a steep climb, it began to shake and the stall warning horn came on. It then rolled to the left before entering a steep, nose-down descent, which was followed by an impact with the ground”.

The Otter impacted the ground nose first in a near vertical attitude, creating an impact signature slightly larger than the diameter of the propeller. The left wing had broken away at the wing root, but remained with the airplane. The left wing leading edge had an impact mark eighteen inches from the tip, where it had struck the tree. The Otter impacted on its nose and the tip of both floats. The float support structure collapsed. The nose of the airplane had been crushed and the engine and support structure intruded into the cockpit. The aft passenger cabin was relatively intact but the empennage was bent at the aft passenger cabin bulkhead. The tail was intact, however the horizontal tailplane and elevator were pushed inward when the wreckage landed on its left side. The Otter had only flown 19 hours since the previous January. Sadly, the pilot was killed in the crash. The company employee in the right seat was seriously injured and the passenger in the rear cabin received minor injuries.

The passenger managed to climb out of the wreckage and hiked one hundred feet up the hill, from where he could see Kodiak and had cellphone reception. He alerted the emergency services and at 8.11pm a US Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter from the Kodiak Air Station arrived and winched him and the other survivor on board and flew them to CGAS Kodiak, from where they were taken to hospital. The remains of the pilot were recovered the next day. Bell UH-1H Huey N703NP of Northern Pioneer helicopters, Big Lake, Alaska happened to be operating out of Kodiak at the time on other work. It was chartered to recover the wreckage of the Otter and did so on 28 September 2011, bringing the wreckage in pieces in three lifts to the Kodiak Airport where it could be examined as part of the crash investigation. Registration N361TT was formally cancelled on 31 March 2012.

In April 2015 Aeronorth Inc., of Anchorage (Duane Peters) advertised for sale the damaged Otter project for $145,000. The fuselage front end was destroyed but the rest of the fuselage was repairable, according to the advert.  “Left wing is easy fix; right wing needs work; controls and tail surfaces are repairable; Garrett STC but no engine or propeller; EDO 7490 floats can be repaired. Lots of value as package in parts alone. Being shipped in a container from Kodiak to Anchorage”.  The wreck was purchased by Mike Schilling of Kenai, Alaska, who has traded in many Otters over the years.

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.