DHC-3 Otter Archive Master Index

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c/n 363

C-GSMG at Yellowknife.
Photo: John Kimberley © September 1993 - Karl E. Hayes Collection
C-GSMG snow has gone!
Photo: Ruben Husberg © 14 April 1994 - Karl E. Hayes Collection
C-GSMG at Selkirk, still some snow around.
Photo: Rich Hulina © March 1995 - Karl E. Hayes Collection
C-GSMG on Great Bear Lake.
Photos: Daniel Acton © August 2018

c/n 363

9405

C-GSMG

x

 9405 Royal Canadian Air Force. Delivered 12-May-1960. Designated as CSR-123.

Initially allocated to 402 Squadron at Winnipeg, MB.

Incident: Twenty miles west of Armstrong, ON. 29-Mar-1965: After an engine failure caused by the breaking of an exhaust valve rocker arm, the aircraft made a forced landing on a snow-covered lake. It was undamaged.

01-Mar-1976. Assigned to 2 Air Reserve Wing at Downsview, ON., for use by 400 and 411 Squadrons.

09-Dec-1981. Ferried to the CFB Mountain View storage depot, ON., and it was advertised for sale by the Crown Assets Disposal Corporation.

Total airframe time: 8,027 hours.

• C-GSMG Sioux Narrows Airways Ltd., Winnipeg, MB. Regd July 1982. Canx 30-Jul-1986.

• C-GSMG Sioux Narrows Airways Ltd., Winnipeg, MB. Regd 30-Oct-1987. Canx 05-Jul-1989 .Power plant. Converted with Polish PZL-1000 engine.

• C-GSMG P. C. Reid Outdoors Ltd., Winnipeg, MB. Regd 30-Jul-1986. Canx 30-Oct-1987.

• C-GSMG Sioux Narrows Airways Ltd., Winnipeg, MB. Operating for Plummers Lodge during the summer months.  Regd 30-Oct-1987. & 05-Jul-1989. Canx 24-Jun-2011.

Power plant: During 2005 the Otter was converted to a Texas Turbine, conversion # 19, by Recon Air at Geraldton, Ontario.

• C-GSMG Blue Water Aviation Services Ltd., Pine Falls, MB. Regd 24-Jun-2011. Canx 08-Jan-2015. Reg 13-Feb-2017.

Current

Otter 363 was delivered to the RCAF on 12 May 1960 with serial 9405. It was allocated to 402 Squadron, Winnipeg as was 9403 (359). These two Otters served alongside the Squadron’s Beech C-45 Expeditors and were later joined by 9415 and 9416. Otter 9405 was involved in the search for Piper PA-22 CF-IGO on 17 November 1963, flying with 9403 on that mission. 9405 is mentioned in the 402 Squadron history for an incident on 29 March 1965: “After an engine failure caused by the breaking of an exhaust valve rocker arm, 9405 made a forced landing on a snow-covered lake twenty miles west of Armstrong, Ontario. It was undamaged.”

9405 is again mentioned in the history of the RCAF Station at Armstrong. On 29 June 1967 Cessna 175 N7022M crashed en route Capreol to Sioux Lookout. As the History records, on 2 July 1967 Winnipeg SAR sent Otter 9405 from 402 Squadron and it located the wreckage of the Cessna 75 feet from the top of a cliff. Sadly there were no survivors. On 24 September 1968 9405 was returning from a supply drop. The pilot made a heavier than normal landing under gusty wind conditions. Skin wrinkling was discovered in the area of the tail wheel. The pilot had elected to land in wind conditions which exceeded limits by seven miles per hour.

9405 continued to serve with 402 Squadron at Winnipeg until February 1976. On 1 March 1976 it was assigned to 2 Air Reserve Wing at Downsview, Ontario for use by 400 and 411 Squadrons. It flew from CFB Downsview until being ferried to the Mountain View storage depot, near Trenton, Ontario on 9 December 1981. It was advertised for sale by the Crown Assets Disposal Corporation with a total airframe time at that stage of its career of 8,027 hours. It was sold at an auction held in February 1982, the buyer being Sioux Narrows Airways to whom the Otter was registered C-GSMG in July 1982. It was painted white with a red cheatline and tail flash and joined a fleet of a Cessna 206, a Beaver and DC-3 C-FQHY. The Otter carried “Plummers Lodge” titles.

Sioux Narrows Airways was owned by Warren Plummer and was used to service sports fishing lodges around the Northwest Territories. The fishing season runs from May to September each year, with guests typically arriving at Yellowknife by chartered Boeing 737. Then the Plummers Lodge fleet took over for transport within the Northwest Territories. The aircraft would already have been positioned at Yellowknife from their winter storage down south. For example, on 2 May 1984 Otter SMG passed through Flin Flon, Manitoba routing to Buffalo Narrows – Fort Chipeywan – Yellowknife and then spent the summer flying the company’s guests to the lodges at Great Slave Lake, Great Bear Lake, Arctic Circle, Shipwreck Lake, Tree River, Canoe Lake, Dismal Lake, Clearwater and Bloody River. The Otter was also used to fly guests, eight at a time, from the lodges on special fly-outs to choice fishing spots.   SMG was registered to P.C.Reid Outdoors Ltd of Winnipeg from 30 July 1986 to 30 October 1987, on lease from Plummers Lodge.

In February 1990 Plummers Lodge acquired a second Otter C-FKOA (130) which was also operated on its behalf by Sioux Narrows Airways. In June 1990 Otter SMG was converted with the Polish PZL-1000 engine, the work being carried out at Wawa, Ontario with the Otter performing test flights there in early July. On 5 July 1990 it departed Wawa via Kenora to Winnipeg. On 12 July it headed north via Flin Flon and Uranium City to Great Slave Lake, to start its summer’s work for Plummers Lodge, flying alongside Otter KOA transporting the fishing lodge guests. At the end of the season both Otters returned south and were in storage during the winter months at Selkirk, Manitoba alongside the rest of the fleet. These two Otters, SMG and KOA, were destined to operate together for Plummers Lodge for many years. KOA was also converted with the Polish engine in 1992. During September 1993 SMG was demonstrated to Air Tindi at Yellowknife, as they were evaluating the Polish conversion for their Otter.

Operations continued over the years that followed, summer months flying the fishing guests around the Northwest Territories and winter storage for the Otters at Selkirk, Manitoba. During winter 2005 / 2006 Otter SMG was converted as Texas Turbine with the Garrett engine, conversion # 19, the work undertaken by Recon Air at Geraldton, Ontario. Otter KOA was also converted to a Texas Turbine that winter.  They resumed service for Plummers Lodge as turbine Otters, and their increased abilities resulted in the retirement of Plummers long-serving DC-3 C-FQHY.  Incidents involving the Otters were occasionally reported on CADORS. On 3 June 2008 Yellowknife FSS reported that an ELT signal started and continued for an hour and a half, and this was traced to Otter SMG then parked at the Yellowknife Airport. When SMG was finished flying for Plummers Lodge at the end of that summer season, it flew for a time for West Caribou Air, flying freight into Webequie, Ontario before flying back to Selkirk for winter storage. There was another CADORS incident on 16 June 2009. Inbound to Poplar River on a flight from Gimli, the pilot observed fluctuating RPMs. He elected to shut down the engine and glide to the runway from about a kilometre away. The engine was repaired and the Otter returned to service.

For summer 2011 onwards Blue Water Aviation Services Ltd of Pine Falls, Manitoba took over from Sioux Narrows Airways in operating the two turbine Otters on behalf of Plummers Lodge and both SMG and KOA were registered to Blue Water Aviation on 24 June 2011, but operations continued as before. On 20 July 2011 SMG is mentioned on CADORS, observed landing on the water in front of the town of Kugluktuk (Coppermine) but there had been no communication or broadcast heard from the pilot on the mandatory frequency. For summer 2013 Plummers were offering seven lodges throughout the Northwest Territories – at Great Bear Lake, Great Slave Lake, Trophy Lodge, Tree River, Neiland Bay, Bransons Outpost and Arctic Circle Lodge, all supported by its hard working pair of turbine Otters.

In winter 2017 Otter SMG was involved in an unusual and most interesting charter. An expedition by three Canadian adventurers was attempting to ski to the North Pole. Usually such expeditions were supported by Ken Borek Air with Twin Otters, but this company was no longer providing this service, so the expedition negotiated a lease of Otter SMG and arranged for a pilot to fly it. The Otter was taken out of storage at Selkirk and flown to Winnipeg, where it loaded up equipment for the expedition and flew it to Resolute Bay in the High Arctic, where the expedition members arrived by scheduled flight. On 6 March 2017 the Otter flew the skiers to Eureka, and is mentioned in a CADORS report doing so.  Prior to taking off, SMG called the Resolute Community Aerodrome Radio Station (CARS) and received a departure advisory.   CARS advised the pilot that a pedestrian with a video camera was within 200 feet of the runway and the pilot acknowledged. The runway lights were flashed on and off but the pedestrian did not leave. The Otter departed with reported visibility of five eights of a mile in snow. RVR on runway 05 was 2,600 feet. A somewhat unusual report this and presumably the “pedestrian” was associated with the expedition, recording its departure for posterity.

Having arrived at Eureka, on 8 March the Otter flew on to Ward Hunt Island, on the north coast of Ellesmere Island, which was the starting point for the expedition. The three skiers then set off for the North Pole and the Otter returned to Resolute Bay, where it was to be stationed for however long the expedition took, so that it could re-supply the expedition.  In the event, the expedition proved a fiasco and was called off after three days as it proved too cold and the skiers got frost bite. The Otter was summoned and rescued the skiers, flying them back to Resolute. It then brought the equipment back to Winnipeg and returned to Selkirk to resume its winter storage.

In May 2017, along with KOA, both Otters resumed flying for Plummers Lodge. Another CADORS report for 18 July 2017 showed SMG en route from the water at Yellowknife to Plummers Lodge on Great Bear Lake.  SMG called Yellowknife Tower to advise it was airborne northbound off the back bay but did not call prior to departure to establish two-way communications.  The Otters flew as usual for Plummers Lodge for summer 2017 and then back into winter storage at Selkirk for winter 2017 / 2018.  2017 was the 35th year that SMG had flown for Plummers Lodge.

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.