DHC-3 Otter Archive Master Index

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c/n 398

C-FQOS at Goose Bay - CYYR, Labrador.
Photo: Karl E. Hayes © April 2001

c/n 398

9418 • CF-QOS

C-FQOS

x

• 9418 Royal Canadian Air Force. Delivered 31-Oct-1960.

Initially allocated to 418 Squadron, CFB Namao, AB.

Accident: Namao. 14th September 1961 On a training flight student levelled off too high and stalled in to ground.

Accident: Namao. 15th October 1967. See details below.

Sep-1968. Damaged aircraft moved to the CFB Mountain View depot, ON and put up for disposal through the Crown Assets Disposal Corporation.

Total time: 2,127 hrs.

• Un regd 8th February 1971 Purchased by Gander Aviation Ltd., of Gander, NL.

Note: Trucked from Mountain View to Weston Aircraft Ltd., Oshawa, ON., where it was rebuilt for Gander Aviation.

• CF-QOS Gander Aviation Ltd., Gander, NL. Regd Jul-1971.

Accident: St. Johns International Airport. NL. 11- Jan-1972. The Otter was flying under charter to the Department of Health. The Otter landed 300 feet short of runway 29. The accident report cited as a factor the pilot's lack of familiarity with the aircraft. The aircraft came down on rough gravel and was badly damaged, although no one was injured. The ambulances which had been waiting at the airport for the arriving patients drove to the scene and were able to take the patients to hospital.

• C-FQOS Direquair Inc., Chibougamau, QC. Based at Lac Cache. Circa 1975.

• C-FQOS change of name to Air Mistassini Inc., in 1981. Company went bankrupt in 1982

• C-FQOS Possibly Societe Tourisme Bay James, but details unconfirmed.

• C-FQOS Air Melancon Inc., St. Anne du Lac, QC. 12-Aug-1983.

Power plant: Converted to a Vazar turbo Otter in 1992.

• C-FQOS Labrador Airways, dba Air Labrador. Goose Bay, NL. Regd 14-Jul-1998.

Note: The owners of Air Labrador had an associated company called Tamalik Air, used primarily to support hunting and  fishing camps, and QOS was assigned to Tamalik Air.

• C-FQOS Tamalik Air.

Accident: Otter Creek, Goose Bay, NL 12th September 2001. The pilot reported he was in climb mode when the aircraft pitched forward and then nosed up before entering an uncontrollable nose-down descent, although it did not exhibit characteristics normally associated with an aerodynamic stall. The aircraft sank in 55 feet of water. It was raised up, and the wreck sold on.

Note: Sold to Glen W. Ernst of Temecula, California. The Otter somewhat disappeared from view until July 2007 when during a visit to the Kenai Airport in Alaska it was noted in a hangar there under rebuild. However, no current record found in FAA or CCAR records.

See expaned narrative below!

Subsumed into Otter 26

Otter 398 was delivered to the RCAF on 31st October 1960 with serial 9418. It was allocated to 418 Squadron, Namao. It sustained 'B' category damage on 14th September 1961 in the course of a training flight. On landing back at base at Namao, the student levelled off too high and stalled in. The heavy landing badly damaged the landing gear. As the accident report summarised: “The student misjudged his height above the ground and the captain failed to take over in time to avoid the accident”. The Otter was trucked to the Canadian Pacific Airlines depot at Lincoln Park, Calgary for repair, where it arrived on 29th September 1961. After repair it was re-issued to 418 Squadron, Namao on 11th January 1962. During 1963 it was involved in two SAR missions, in February 1963 for Howard DGA N58856 and in September 1963 for Cessna 175 CF-LBF. On both of these missions it flew alongside 418 Squadron Otter 9417 (396). It continued flying for 418 Squadron until it met with another 'B' category crash on the airbase at Namao on 15th October 1967.

Circuits and landings were being practiced. After a landing using full flap, the flap was pumped to the climb position and the next circuit was started. On the downwind leg, the pilot decided to carry out a practice forced landing. At a point on final approach, approximately eight feet above the ground and at 65 knots, the Otter banked rapidly and struck the ground heavily. The accident report found that the aircraft was established on final approach with the flaps still in the climb position and with the flap selector still in the up position. At an altitude of approximately eight feet, the pilot elected to put down more flap. Without repositioning the selector, he operated the hand pump, but instead of the flaps going down as he intended, they came up. The aircraft sank rapidly and although full throttle was applied, the descent could not be arrested and some serious damage was caused to 9418. That accident ended its RCAF career, during which it had flown 2,127 hours.

The damaged Otter was put into storage at Namao and in September 1968 was moved to the Mountain View depot in Ontario and put up for disposal, in its damaged condition, through the Crown Assets Disposal Corporation. It was one of three damaged Otters sold on 8th February 1971 to Gander Aviation Ltd., of Gander, Newfoundland. The three aircraft were trucked from Mountain View to Weston Aircraft Ltd., Oshawa, Ontario where they were rebuilt for Gander Aviation. On 13th May 1971, as the rebuilds were in progress, marks were allocated for the three Otters, CF-QOQ (46) ex 3685, CF-QOR (375) ex 9409 and CF-QOS (398) ex 9418. Two of the aircraft, QOQ and QOR, were sold on but QOS was registered to Gander Aviation Ltd in June 1971, intended for operation by the company.  On 3rd July 1971 William Bennett, the owner of Gander Aviation, performed a fifty five minute test flight at Oshawa in QOS, and on 6th July he flew the Otter to Carp, Ontario where Bristol amphibious floats were fitted. On 8th July he set off on the Otter's delivery flight, routing that day from Carp to Fredericton, New Brunswick and the following day via Charlottetown to Gander, total flying time for the delivery flight being 8 hours 50 minutes. QOS then entered service with Gander Aviation Ltd.

The Otter was used for general charter work around both the island of Newfoundland and in mainland Labrador. It also supported outpost fishing camps in Labrador, at Michael River and Sand Hill River. It was used to fly freight and personnel to Baie d' Espoire, Newfoundland where a power station was being built. Another task was to bring patients in from outlying nursing stations to St. Johns. It was on such a flight that QOS crashed on landing at St. Johns on 11th January 1972. The Otter was flying under charter to the Department of Health. There were seven souls on board, including two pilots and a medical attendant. Two stretcher patients had been picked up at Burgeo, and two more at Harbour Breton. The Otter landed 300 feet short of runway 29 at the St. Johns International Airport, shortly after 5pm that afternoon. The accident report cited as a factor the pilot's lack of familiarity with the aircraft. The Otter came down on rough gravel and was badly damaged, although no one was injured. The ambulances which had been waiting at the airport for the arriving patients drove to the scene and were able to take the patients to hospital.

The Otter was shipped to Montréal for repair, after which it returned to Gander and continued in service with Gander Aviation until August 1974. It had flown 1,304 hours while in service with Gander Aviation. It then went to the mainland for structural modifications before being sold to Direquair Inc., of Chibougamau, Québec in 1975, registered C-FQOS. It was based at Lac Cache and served alongside the company's other two Otters C-FDIO (452) and C-FAPQ (201). There was a change of name to Air Mistassini Inc., in 1981. The following year, Air Mistassini went bankrupt and the Otters were lying at Lac Cache for a time. QOS was sold to Air Melançon Inc of St. Anne du Lac, Québec to whom it was registered in August 1983. It was to fly for Air Melançon for many years and in 1992 was converted to a Vazar turbo Otter.

QOS continued in service with Air Melançon until June 1998, when it was sold to Labrador Airways Ltd., trading as Air Labrador and moved to its new base at Goose Bay. The owners of Air Labrador had an associated company called Tamalik Air, used primarily to support hunting and  fishing camps, and QOS was assigned to Tamalik Air and painted in its striking maroon overall colour scheme. When not flying for Tamalik Air, it flew as part of the Air Labrador fleet. For example, during April 2001 it was heavily tasked flying fuel in barrels and groceries from Goose Bay to Border Beacon as the native Innu were moving there from Davis Inlet.

QOS continued flying for Air Labrador / Tamalik Air until an accident on 12th September 2001, which occurred as the Otter was taking off from Otter Creek at Goose Bay en route to a fishing lodge. The pilot reported he was in climb mode when the aircraft pitched forward and then nosed up before entering an uncontrollable nose-down descent, although it did not exhibit characteristics normally associated with an aerodynamic stall. It impacted the water hard, resulting in structural failure of the float supports and extensive damage to the fuselage. “Lab Air 911”, a Twin Otter medevac flight bound for Nain witnessed the incident and raised the alarm. The pilot and three passengers were rescued by boat, but QOS sank in 55 feet of water. It was raised up, and the wreck sold to aircraft dealer Glen W. Ernst of Temecula, California.

The intriguing story of what became of C-FQOS after its crash at Goose Bay on 12 September 2001 was told some years later in a court case involving the Otter, held in Kenai, Alaska. The wreck of Otter QOS was bought from the insurers for $127,000 by aircraft dealer Glen Ernst of Temecula, California. The Otter had been badly damaged in the crash and its tail had been further damaged in the recovery of the aircraft from under the water. Mr Ernst however was an experienced aircraft dealer, having dealt over the years in some 500 aircraft, including six Otters. He arranged for the wrecked Otter to be transported in Spring 2002 all the way from Goose Bay, Labrador to Polson, Montana, where it was stored in a hangar and advertised for sale “as is”. The registration of the Otter to Labrador Airways was cancelled on 18 October 2002. It did not sell however and was destined to remain in the hangar for the next five years.

In March 2007 the Otter was sold to Craig Schweizer of Kenai, Alaska who already operated Otter N103SY (296) through his company Mavrik Aire. The sale was made by an agent acting on behalf of Glen Ernst, who claimed that this agent double-crossed him and had no authority to make the sale. When he found out that the Otter was being loaded onto a truck at Polson and driven off, Mr Ernst alerted the authorities. As the truck with its Otter cargo was headed west, it was stopped on three occasions by the local sheriff, by the Montana State Police and finally by the FBI. On each occasion however it was allowed to proceed, as Craig Schweizer, the buyer, had a valid Bill of Sale and the authorities declined to intervene in what was a civil dispute. The truck arrived at the port of Tacoma near Seattle, where the Otter was put on board ship and sailed for Soldotna, Alaska where it was deposited in Craig Schweizer’s hangar at the nearby Kenai Airport.

Already in the hangar at Kenai was what remained of Otter serial 26, which basically comprised the rear fuselage and tail section and some other parts.  As the judge in the court case later remarked, Craig Schweizer had in his hangar “two wrecked Otters, one (398) with Canadian registration C-FQOS clouded by a dispute between prior owners and the other (26) heavily crippled”. 398 could not be de-registered from Canada as the prior owner, Glen Ernst, had filed papers with Transport Canada notifying them of the ownership dispute. Accordingly a plan was hatched to pass off Otter 398 as 26. Work commenced on the rebuilding of 398 at Kenai. Its tail section had been damaged in the recovery of the aircraft from the water after its crash at Goose Bay and accordingly the rear fuselage and tail section of Otter 26 was used in the rebuilding of 398. All traces of the identity of 398 were removed and it was painted into green primer.

In the meantime, Craig Schweizer who owned the hangar at the Kenai Airport in which the Otter was being rebuilt, was in dispute with the airport management company over property issues. That dispute went to court and the airport company, known as Salamatof Air Park Subdivision Owners Inc., was awarded a judgement of $85,000 against Mr Schweizer. When he didn’t pay up, in August 2009 Salamatof seized the Otter, with a view to selling it to get paid their money. Craig Schweizer, together with a Don Reesor and his company, Airflow Leasing LLC., who were the owners of Otter 26, then started court proceedings against Salamatof in the Superior Court for the State of Alaska, Third Judicial District, in Kenai to try and stop the sale of the Otter.

The court case was heard during March 2010 and Mr Schweizer argued that the seized Otter was not 398, that it was in fact 26, because the rear fuselage and tail of 26 had been used in the rebuild, and he claimed he was entitled to use serial 26 as the aircraft’s identity. He also claimed that Otter 26 was owned by Airflow Leasing and that accordingly Salamatof was not entitled to seize or sell the Otter, as they were not owed any money by Airflow Leasing. The court gave its judgement on 12 April 2010, in which it rejected these arguments. The judge ruled that the re-constructed Otter was serial 398, that the rear fuselage of 26 when it had been incorporated into the rebuild had lost its identity and that the rebuilt aircraft’s proper identity was serial 398. He rejected the arguments that just because parts of a different aircraft are used in a rebuild, that the owner can choose what identity to give an aircraft. The judge also ruled that Craig Schweizer was the owner of 398 and that his creditor Salamatof was therefore entitled to seize and sell the Otter to obtain payment of its debt. He directed that the Otter be sold by the Sheriff and that after payment of the creditor’s debt, any surplus be lodged in court for a decision as to who was entitled to the money.

Following the court’s decision, in order to avoid a forced sale of the Otter by the Sheriff, Don Reesor paid the $85,000 to the creditor and was given possession of the Otter. He also bought whatever ownership interest Craig Schweizer had in the Otter. He approached the FAA and got their approval to designate the Otter as serial 26 and affixed an identity plate to the Otter declaring it to be serial 26. By Bill of Sale dated 7 January 2011 Mr Reesor’s company Airflow Leasing LLC., sold the Otter, now designated 26, to a Michael Schilling of Kenai, who subsequently sold it to Kenmore Air Harbor Inc., of Seattle, who completed the rebuild and the Otter was registered to them on 18 October 2011 as N765KA.

This Otter, which then entered service with Kenmore Air as part of its large fleet of Otters, comprised the fuselage and wings of 398 and the rear fuselage and tail of 26 but was now, by virtue of what had occurred, designated as serial 26.  Otter 398 therefore no longer officially exists, having lost its identity and been subsumed into Otter 26.

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.