DHC-3 Otter Archive Master Index

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c/n 4
CF-GBX view from the water side.
Photo: Sheldon D. Benner © August 1978 - Michael J. Ody Collection
CF-GBX at Pickle Lake, Ontario.
Photo: Larry Milberry © 22 August 1979
CF-GBX dockside.
Photo: Unknown photographer © August 1979 - Michael J. Ody Collection

c/n 4



Entries preceded by dates are extracts from the archives held at the Department of Transport.

29-Apr-1952 Registration block CF-GBV to GBZ issued to DHC.

29-Apr-1952 Application for registration by Hudson Bay Air Transport Ltd., Flin Flon, MB.

05-Nov-1952 DHC advise Department of Transport that Hudson Bay Air Transport are the owners of DHC-3 msn 4 registered CF-GBX.

06-Nov-1952 Aircraft Inspection Release Certificate issued, test flown for certificate by George A. Neal.

06-Nov-1952 Certificate of Airworthiness #3911 issued.

06-Nov-1952 Certificate of Registration #11727 issued to Hudson Bay Air Transport Ltd., Flin Flon MB (paper certificate not prepared until 06-Mar-1953).

• CF-GBX. Hudson Bay Air Transport Ltd., Flin Flon, MB. Delivered 11-Nov-1952.

Incident. Camp 84 (Foot Lake) Reed Lake area of MB 54.45N/100.34W: 06-Jun-1958. Whilst transporting equipment between mining camps a fire started in the cabin immediately after docking when fuel spilled from an outboard engine and came into contact with a battery. (Probable cause was a metal screen coming into contact with uncovered storage batteries) The cabin was burnt out and the aircraft declared “total destruction by fire”. Pilot William Harvey Beveridge. Uninjured.

• CF-GBX Cancelled by CCAR, Jul-1958.

Note. Wreckage purchased by Superior Airways, Fort William, ON ., who spent seven years re building it.

05-Feb-1965 Application for registration of DHC-3 msn 4 by Superior Airways Ltd., Fort William ON.

04-Mar-1965 Regional office requests CF-GBX be re-issued to DHC-3 msn 4.

08-May-1965 Application for Certificate of Airworthiness; fuselage and empenage 2,638 hours TTSN; wings 0 hours TTSN.

12-May-1965 One month temporary Certificate of Airworthiness and Certificate of Registration issued to Superior Airways.

12-May-1965 Certificate of Registration #35002 issued to Superior Airways Ltd.    

• CF-GBX Superior Airways Ltd. Fort William, ON. Based Pickle Lake, ON. Regd 12-May-1965.

12-May-1966 Total time since rebuild 347 hours.

07-Jul-1965 Certificate of Airworthiness #11060 issued.

17-Sep-1979 Application for registration by Central Air Transport Ltd., Sioux Lookout, ON.

07-Feb-1980 Certificate of Registration issued to Central Air Transport Ltd., Sioux Lookout, ON.

• CF-GBX Central Air Transport, Sioux Lookout, ON. Regd 17-Sep-1979.

• CF-GBX Cancelled CCAR 28-Jan-1982.

Accident: Carling Lake, ON. 50.35N/91.16W 24-May-1980. On take-off from the lake the engine failed. This caused it to run up on to the lake shore. Although the pilot Ralph W. Jewell and the seven passengers were able to evacuate the aircraft, it was consumed by a post impact fire.

Total time flown as recorded in Department of Transport Archives.

14-Oct-1953 -  371 hours

04-Sep-1957 – 3,256 hours.

Gap following 1958 accident

24-May-1967 – 3,592 hours

05-Jun-1968 – 4,084 hours

08-May-1969 – 4,677 hours

04-May-1970 – 5,386 hours

07-May-1971 – 6,205 hours

06-May-1972 – 6,927hours

07-May-1973 – 7,453 hours

20-Apr-1974 – 8,166 hours

30-May-1975 – 8,641 hours

18-May-1976 – 9,110 hours

20-May-1977 – 9,584 hours

30-May-1978 – 10,188 hours

24-May-1979 – 10,661 hours

05-May-1980 – 11,082 hours

Destroyed by fire

Otter number 4 was delivered to Hudson Bay Air Transport Ltd., as CF-GBX on 11 November 1952, becoming the first Otter delivered to a customer. HBAT were based at Channing/Schist Lake at Flin Flon, Manitoba, and were a subsidiary of Hudson Bay Exploration & Development Company Ltd. HBAT had been formed to supply air transportation for prospecting operations. The scope of the operation expanded and diversified over the years, to include passengers and freight to HBAT plants at Island Falls, Sask, Whitesand, and Snow Lake as well as the bush camps and also for aerial photography, search and rescue and air ambulance. Originally HBAT flew the Norseman, until these were replaced by Beavers and Otters. During HBAT’s 43 years of operation it flew 15 different types of aircraft, including 6 Otters, which proved ideal for its operations. They could fly in personnel and equipment to establish exploration camps in remote northern areas, move the camps and keep them supplied.

CF-GBX was to faithfully serve HBAT for five and a half years. It was based for a time at Jeff Lake in the Yukon, supporting S-55 helicopters at a drill camp. In March 1957 it was joined by the company’s second Otter CF-JOR (212). In June 1958 the two Otters were engaged in the Reed Lake area in central Manitoba, to the east of Flin Flon, moving drilling camps. On 6 June ’58 an unfortunate accident befell GBX. As the pilot later recounted:

“I was engaged in moving camp supplies and drill from Camp 72 (Radar Lake) to Camp 84 (Foot Lake) that morning. I moved one load of groceries and one passenger. The second load comprised of boxes of groceries, containers of kitchen equipment and drill and camp equipment. I took off from Camp 72 at 11:00 and docked at Camp 84 fifteen minutes later and tied up. I walked to the tent to write up my flight reports and my helper started to unload. He said there was something burning in the machine. I ran to the aircraft and had the pyrene extinguisher on the flames within seconds. However the fumes and smoke became so thick I couldn’t remain in the cabin. The fire took hold and the cabin started to burn”.

The fire was seen by the pilot of Otter CF-JOR, who raised the alarm, but the fire continued to burn, causing very substantial damage to GBX. It transpired that gasoline had spilled from an outboard motor and had come into contact with a battery. That was the end of the Otter as far as HBAT was concerned – “total destruction by fire”. The wreckage was sold, and purchased by Superior Airways Ltd of Fort William, (later known as Thunder Bay) Ontario.

Superior Airways was owned by a well known Ontario aviator, Orville Wieben, and as well as being an aircraft operator, he was also involved in aircraft salvage. Mr Wieben was not convinced of GBX’s “total destruction” and set about rebuilding the Otter in his hangar at Thunder Bay. This took some time but on 12 May 1965 the Otter was registered to Superior Airways Ltd and painted in the company’s red/white/black colour scheme and entered service with Superior Airways, replacing Otter CF-IKT (81) which had been sold the previous year. GBX was to serve Superior Airways for 14 years, flying out Pickle Lake and Sioux Lookout, as a hard working freighter year round supplying the northern settlements of the remote bush country of Northwest Ontario.

It flew on floats in summer and straight skis in winter. The change over took place at Thunder Bay each year and when it had been put on floats, it took off from the runway there on a dolly. As one observer explained: “That required someone standing in a 45 gallon barrel attached to the front of a van, who had to grab the tail stinger and steer the Otter until it had rudder control. I was in the barrel when it was taking off one day. The pilot lifted the right float out of the dolly and then lifted the left one and flew. I had a front row seat watching the right dolly careen into the left one and then cartwheel off the runway, taking out a couple of runway lights. Needless to say Mr Wieben was not happy when presented with a bill for repairs”.

GBX was to be Superior Airways longest serving Otter. Among the unusual loads it transported, in 1968 it carried the fuselage of Cessna 180 CF-KJZ from its crash  site, a lake 40 miles north of Port Arthur, as an external load back to Thunder Bay – “the take off run was probably four miles long before we were off the water”. In winter 1969 GBX was trying to land on the lake at Armstrong. It stalled from about 15 feet above the ice and crashed down, driving the left gear leg through the fuselage. It was jury rigged on site and flown back to Thunder Bay for permanent repairs. In winter 1970 GBX was on a frozen lake at Fort Hope. It was a bitter morning with a temperature of -35. The engine was not heated long enough with the blow pots before engine start was attempted. The engine did start but the oil pressure did not rise and a bearing was turned in the engine. An engine change had to be carried out on the ice.

GBX continued flying for Superior Airways until 1979 when it was sold to Central Air Transport of Sioux Lookout, Ontario, being registered to its new owner on 17 September 1979. This was a newly-formed operator and the Otter was its first aircraft. It went on to acquire a Beech 18, two Beavers, an Aztec and some Cessna 180/185s serving the Ontario bush country. Unfortunately the Otter did not last too long in the service of Central Air Transport and was destroyed in an accident on 24 May 1980.

On that day GBX had flown from its base at Sioux Lookout to Carling Lake, Ontario. It was taking off from Carling Lake with the pilot and seven passengers on board when engine failure occurred. The pilot later reported that at an altitude of 150 to 200 feet after take off, the engine failed. A rapid instrument scan indicated a lack of fuel pressure. The pilot was unable to prevent striking trees on the shore. Fire broke out and the Otter was destroyed. There was no evidence from an examination of the engine as to what would have caused the power loss. As the subsequent report stated: ”The possibility that the aircraft stalled on climb out and that the pilot could not recover in time to prevent a collision with the trees cannot be discounted”. In any event, the Otter ran up on the lake shore into the trees and although all the occupants evacuated the aircraft it was consumed by a post impact fire”. Sadly on this occasion GBX had indeed been “totally destroyed”.  GBX was replaced in service with Central Air Transport by Otter C-GYKO (287) which they bought from Ontario Central Airlines.

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.