Otter 382 was delivered to the United States Army on 14th July 1960 with serial 59-2229 (tail number 92229). Its initial unit allocation is unknown, but it was delivered from Downsview to Fort Benning, Georgia. In January 1964 it joined the Army's Golden Knights Parachute Team, Fort Bragg, North Carolina as a support aircraft, and was to remain with the Team for the rest of its career with the Army. It flew alongside Otter 76135 (283). These two Otters were based at Simmons AAF., Fort Bragg together with the Golden Knights Caribou and other aircraft. They were used exclusively by the Competition Team, which trained each day at a small airfield near Raeford, North Carolina.
Occasionally the Otters were used as jump platforms at air shows when a helicopter or the Caribou was not available, and the air show was less than an hour's flight from Fort Bragg. One incident was recorded on 21st January 1977 in South Carolina. A generator light came on during cruise flight, followed by smoke from the instrument panel. A precautionary landing was made at a civil airfield and the generator replaced. By November 1980, 92229 had 6,765 hours on the airframe.
On 12th May 1981, an era came to an end when the two Otters took off from Fort Bragg for the last time and set off in formation, headed for retirement in Fort Rucker, Alabama. En route however 92229 suffered engine problems. The R-1340 ran rough and backfired and both Otters landed at Bush Field, Augusta, Georgia. When it became apparent that 92229 would need major engine work, 76135 flew on to Fort Rucker. 92229 was to remain at Bush Field for some months before it was repaired and completed its journey to Fort Rucker, where both Otters were parked in storage at Guthrie AAF., although they later joined the aircraft parked at the Army Aviation Museum at Fort Rucker.
After nearly ten years in storage, the Otter was sold and was registered N382BH to Arlene Harnden of Reno, Nevada in January 1991, and then to Connor C.Thomas of Eagle River, Alaska the following month. The Otter had actually been purchased by 40 Mile Air of Tok, Alaska, with whom Mr Thomas was associated. The Otter was ferried all the way from Fort Rucker, Alabama to Victoria on Vancouver Island, the ferry flight undertaken with some difficulty as the brakes rarely worked. 40 Mile Air had contracted with Victoria Air Maintenance to refurbish the Otter and convert it to civilian configuration. A new R-1340 engine, acquired from a company called 'Firewall Forward' was installed in the Otter at Victoria and the Otter was then flown from Victoria to Renton Airport, Seattle for inspection by the FAA. 40 Mile Air had acquired the Otter to service a contract they had bid on, but when that deal fell through they had no need of the Otter, which they sold to Taquan Air Service Inc of Ketchikan, Alaska. Victoria Air Maintenance completed the refurbishment of the aircraft for Taquan Air Service, and as soon as the Certificate of Airworthiness had issued, N382BH was delivered to Ketchikan on a set of floats supplied by Kenmore Air in Seattle.
N382BH joined Taquan's fleet as their first Otter, providing scheduled and charter services from the company's base at Ketchikan. During May 1995 it was converted to a Vazar turbine Otter at Ketchikan. It was the first field conversion to a turbine carried out in Alaska. Taquan Air Service continued to expand and acquire more Otters, until it became the major Ketchikan-based carrier. Sadly however it encountered difficulties and in December 1999 was closed down. N382BH was flown to Anchorage, where it was used for a short time by Ketchum Air Service, before it was parked. It was eventually sold through the courts by the liquidator of Taquan Air Service and purchased by Hill Aircraft Service of Prince George, BC, in November 2001.
The Otter was dismantled and trucked from Anchorage to Prince George where it was completely refurbished and repainted, and emerged from the hangar in pristine condition. It was advertised for sale in April 2002 by Hill Aircraft Service, on EDO 7170 floats, with total airframe time of 16,036 hours and 2,852 hours on the engine. It was a “refurbished aircraft ready to work”. On 7th January 2003 the Otter was registered C-FHAS to Kluane Aviation Corporation, Prince George, BC but remained advertised as “for sale by owner”. It was still advertised for sale during 2004.
This Otter was subsequently operated by Northern Pacific Seaplanes, regd 04-Apr-2005, an associated company of Harbour Air, Vancouver and with fleet number 312. It was based at Prince Rupert, BC. A minor incident was recorded in March 2007. The float-equipped Otter landed on the water at Masset on the Queen Charlotte Islands after a flight from Eden Lake. The pilot turned into the channel to taxi to the seaplane base. The wind was from the south east at 30 knots and gusty. When partially turned crosswind, using power, the tail suddenly lifted and the left wing and propeller struck the water. The Otter righted itself and the engine remained running. The aircraft was taken in tow by a fishing vessel and towed to the seaplane dock. The pilot, the sole occupant, was not injured. The aircraft sustained substantial engine damage. Following repairs it was returned to service.
To be updated.
Full history up to 2005 courtesy of Karl E Hayes © from DHC-3 Otter - A History (CD-ROM 2005)