DHC-3 Otter Archive Master Index

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c/n 377

VP-FAL
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c/n 377

VP-FAL

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• VP-FAL British Antarctic Survey (BAS). Delivered 30-Nov-1960.

Accident: Adelaide Island. 28-Dec-1964. Suffered structural damage after stalling and landing short of prepared strip. Further information below.

Total time: 620 hrs.

Written off and cannibalised for spares

Otter 377 was delivered to the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) on 30th November 1960, registered VP-FAL. It was their second Otter, VP-FAK (294) having been delivered in November 1959. Otter VP-FAL was acquired as a replacement for Beaver VP-FAJ, which had been lost in an accident in September 1960. The Otter was packed into a crate and shipped to Deception Island in the Antarctic, which was the BAS aircraft base, and re-assembled. To quote from an official report: “ On 11th January 1961 Otter 377 arrived at Deception Island on the MV KISTA DAN. No major troubles were encountered in getting it ashore on a coupled pair of Army pontoons, or in assembling it, although attention to the other aircraft (294) and bad weather tended to slow the job down. Installation of SARAH equipment could not be completed because of a lack of parts, mainly cable connectors and aerials that were lost with the Beaver and these were ordered. 377 was successfully test flown on 21st January 1961. It is modified for aerial photography”.  FAL wintered and was serviced at Deception Island, but operated during the summer months on Adelaide Island, alongside FAK.

VP-FAL continued in operation until damaged beyond repair in an accident on Adelaide Island on 28th December 1964. Both Otters were that day engaged on a fuel airlift. The supply ship RRS JOHN BISCOE had arrived at Adelaide Island during the third week of December and tied up beside the fast ice edge thirty miles south of the BAS base at Adelaide. Barrels of avgas were unloaded from the vessel and were being flown by the two Otters to the fuel dump at the aircraft dispersal.

Twenty trips had been performed carrying eighty barrels. In order to avoid wasting time by taxying a long distance to the unloading point, the pilot of FAL decided to land short of the runway marker barrels, mis-judged the slope at the touchdown point and rounded out high. The aircraft started to sink, which he attempted to correct with the addition of power. As the throttle was being advanced, the left wing dropped and the left ski struck the ground heavily. The vertical strut of the left wheel took the full shock of the landing and pushed through the side of the fuselage below the pilot's seat. The aircraft was unloaded, towed to its dispersal area and tied down.

VP-FAL had suffered extensive structural damage and was beyond economic repair, particularly given the remote location of the crash. It had flown a total of 620 hours since delivery and performed 634 landings. It was to remain at Adelaide Station, and was cannibalised for parts for the other Otter VP-FAK.

Full history up to 2005 courtesy of Karl E Hayes © from DHC-3 Otter - A History (CD-ROM 2005)