Otter 395 was delivered to the Royal Norwegian Air Force on 16th November 1960, with serial 60-395, taken from its year of delivery and constructor's number. It was crated and shipped to Norway along with 397, arriving in Oslo. It was taken to Fornebu Airport, Oslo on 19th December 1960, where it was re-assembled by Widerøes Flyverksted, and was then accepted by the Royal Norwegian Air Force. It was assigned to Rygge Air Base in February 1961. It was allocated to 7193 Stotteving (7193 Support Flight), code 0-AH, at Bødo Air Base in northern Norway with effect from 1st March 1962, this unit being part of Air Command North. In May 1962 it returned to Widerøes at Oslo for depot maintenance and returned to Bødo on 21st July 1962.
On 26th October 1963, while on wheel-skis, on a flight from Kautokeino to Bardufoss Air Base, the crew encountered bad weather with heavy snow and low clouds. Unable to find a way through, the crew decided to make an emergency ditching in the sea near Skattora Seaplane Base, Tromso when their fuel was nearing exhaustion. The two pilots and a dog that was onboard escaped and were rescued. The Otter sank after eight minutes. The next day, the Otter was salvaged from where it had sank and was taken to Skattora SPB. The rear fuselage had been totally destroyed due to the water pressure. All magnesium parts such as wheels and flight control systems were damaged by corrosion, as were instruments and electrical components. The engine was a total loss. The Otter was taken back to Widerøes at Fornebu Airport, Oslo for complete rebuild. It was noted dumped there in May 1964, prior to commencement of the rebuild.
When the rebuild was completed, on 25th February 1965 the Otter returned to 7193 Stotteving at Bødo Air Base. 719 Squadron was officially established at Bødo Air Base on 1st January 1966, and took over from the Support Flight. On 12th January 1966 the Otter went south to Kjeller Air Base for maintenance, re-joining 719 Squadron, Bodo on 19th February 1966. On 2nd January 1967 it made its first flight with a new code of XJ-X. It continued flying for 719 Squadron until 30th August 1967, when it arrived at Jarlsberg Air Base and was struck off charge. It had flown 2,249 hours in the service of the Royal Norwegian Air Force. It was taken over by Halle & Peterson, Oslo who were the DHC representatives in Norway, for disposal.
The British Antarctic Survey (BAS) were in need of an Otter to replace their VP-FAK (294) which had been withdrawn from service due to extensive corrosion at the end of the 1966/67 season. They purchased Otter 395 from Halle & Peterson. There was criticism at the time that the government was somewhat slow to upgrade from single-engined aircraft for budgetary reasons, and that of the twelve nations then carrying on major programmes in the Antarctic, only the BAS aircrew and scientists were being exposed to prolonged single-engined flight over hostile terrain. Adverse comment was also made about the acquisition of Otter 395, which already had over two thousand hours on the airframe and had once been ditched.
Nevertheless, the acquisition went ahead and the Otter, allocated marks VP-FAM, left Southampton on 29th September 1967 aboard the ship 'PERLA DAN' and arrived at Deception Island, South Shetlands, in December. There had been a volcanic eruption on the island that month, so the shipment was diverted. On 2nd January 1968 the vessel arrived at Grytviken, South Georgia where the Otter was unloaded and stored in crates on the quayside. It remained there for the next year, until December 1968, when it was shipped back to Deception Island on HMS Endurance, being unloaded at the BAS base on Deception Island on 10th January 1969. The Otter had suffered some corrosion during its year on the quayside, and was rebuilt using parts cannibalised from Otter 294, which had itself been grounded due to extensive metal fatigue at the end of the 1966 / 1967 season.
Having been rebuilt, flight tested, snags rectified, and a wait for suitable weather, VP-FAM flew to Adelaide Station on Adelaide Island and entered service with BAS. It worked well for some sixty hours operational flying. By this stage, BAS had taken delivery in October 1968 of its first DHC-6 Twin Otter VP-FAO and Otter FAM was used primarily to supplement the Twin Otter on the re-supply of Fossil Bluff. It was also used for two sorties to 'Porter Depot', to recover the engine and other parts from Pilatus Porter VP-FAN, which had crashed the previous February. The Otter was also used for ice and seal spotting flights, and for a geological recce on Stonington Island.
On 3rd March 1969 Otter VP-FAM took off from Stonington Island with five souls on board. The object of the flight was to survey the sledging route to Armadillo depot and to place a supply of fuel and food at the depot. Sixteen minutes after take off, at a height of 5,200 feet, there was a sudden loss of power. The nose of the aircraft was lowered to try to maintain speed, but due to the proximity of high ground, there was no other choice but to attempt a forced landing. There was little time to chose a suitable landing site and the Otter was force landed in the only available area, at an indicated altitude of 4,800 feet. The ground run was fairly short due to the landing being made in an uphill direction, but the surface was extremely rough and the undercarriage collapsed almost immediately after landing. The personnel on board were unhurt, but the Otter was wrecked. It had total airframe hours of 2,335 at the time of its destruction. The Otter was replaced in service with BAS by a Turbo Beaver, which also took the registration VP-FAM (2).
Full history up to 2005 courtesy of Karl E Hayes © from DHC-3 Otter - A History (CD-ROM 2005)