Otter 380 was delivered to the RCAF on 22nd July 1960 with serial 9410. It was assigned to 442 Transport & Rescue Squadron at Sea Island, Vancouver on amphibious floats. It is mentioned in the unit history for 26th June 1961, rescuing two members of a swimming party adrift on a log. It was also used by 121 Communications & Rescue Flight, which was also based at Sea Island. On 12th December 1962, 9410 successfully carried out a forced landing in the Gulf of Georgia near French Creek on Vancouver Island as a result of engine failure due to a split cylinder. It was towed by boat to Parksville. An engine was removed from one of the wheel Otters at Sea Island and an engine change carried out on 9410 at Parksville. The Otter had been en route to Tofino when the engine quit. It continued in service with 442 Squadron until February 1964, before crossing the country to join 400 Squadron at Downsview, Ontario on 9th March '64, still operating on amphibious floats.
9410 continued flying for 400 Squadron until it came to grief on 21st June 1971, en route from CFB Petawawa to McKenzie Lake to pick up squadron members on summer camp. As the accident report summarises: “Following take-off from a land base, the pilot of the amphibious Otter forgot to raise the landing gear and proceeded to a lake where, following inspection of the landing area, he carried out his pre-landing check and prepared for a glassy water landing. Shortly after the float- equipped aircraft touched the water, it flipped over on its back. The pilot easily vacated the aircraft through the already open window of the port cockpit door and inflated his mae west”. The report found that the pilot failed to complete a thorough pre-landing check. He was also criticised for failing to carry a crewman or second pilot in a float-equipped aircraft, contrary to flying orders.
The 400 Squadron history describes the incident as follows: “Early on the morning of 21st June, Lt.Col Davidson and Sgt Don Sturgess departed CFB Petawawa into a bright sunny sky to pick up some squadron members at McKenzie Lake. The first lift was completed with no problem.
Sgt. Sturgess was left at the lake to organize the second lift. As the aircraft approached the lake for the second time, the ground party could see that the wheels were still down. CWO Bill Humphry and Sgt. Sturgess, realizing the danger, leaped into a canoe and furiously paddled out into the lake. The two senior NCOs frantically waved their paddles to attract the pilot's attention, but unfortunately in the nose-high landing attitude he could not see them. As it became evident there was going to be an accident, the two paddlers stroked even harder. The Otter touched down and immediately turned turtle, the wings slapping the water with a tremendous bang. When the spray settled, only the bottoms of the floats, with the wheels sticking up, were visible. Nearing the inverted aircraft and seeing no sign of life, the two rescuers frantically concerned themselves with getting the pilot out.
Their concerns turned to relief when they reached the first float. There, sitting in his Mae West on the far side of the other float was Lt.Col Davidson. Well known for his glibness under pressure, he deflated the tension with 'Wanna buy a used Otter?”.
The Otter was fished out of the water and trucked to Trenton on a low-bed trailer. The fin and rudder were left on the aircraft. Passing through Pembroke, the fin took out most of the wires across the main street. The police caught up with the driver and alerted him to check any further wires he passed under. The truck turned onto the freeway and the tail was ripped off at the first underpass.
The further-damaged Otter eventually arrived at Trenton. On 23rd July 1971 it was moved from Trenton to the Mountain View storage depot, where it lay for some years, used a fire-fighting practice fuselage. It was struck off charge on 27th February 1975. At that stage it was at Petawawa, used in a film shoot by the Department of National Defence.
The fuselage was purchased by Ray Cox, who was at the time working on his turbo Otter project CF-MES (421), through his company Cox Air Resources Ltd. He was purchasing wrecked Otters with a view to rebuilding and converting them to turbines once his conversion was certificated. Otter 380 was trucked to the Cox Air Resources facility at Edmonton. Ray Cox also acquired another crashed Otter, number 126, from La Ronge Aviation Services, which was also stored at Edmonton. As explained in relation to number 126, although the Cox turbo Otter made its first flight in September 1978, due to engineering problems and funding difficulties, Canadian certification proved impossible to obtain and the project was relocated to Seattle. Otters 126 and 380 were put into storage in a remote location known as Graham's Farm, south of Seattle. The Cox turbo Otter project effectively came to an end when the prototype (421) crashed in December 1984, resulting in the bankruptcy of the company. As a result, Otters 126 and 380 were sold in the course of the bankruptcy, to Taquan Air in Ketchikan, Alaska, who in turn sold them to Harold Hansen in Seattle. The subsequent story of 380 has already been told in relation to number 126. These two Otters were registered to Harold Hansen in December 1997, 126 as N63535 and 380 as N6363D, but remained in storage at Sedro Woolley north of Seattle, in the possession of James B.Hayton / North Sound Aviation Inc.
On 21 October 2011 the Otter was registered to Donna E. Hansen, daughter of Harold Hansen, still as N6363D. As far as is known it remains stored at Sedro Woolley.
To be updated
Full history up to 2005 courtesy of Karl E Hayes © from DHC-3 Otter - A History (CD-ROM 2005)