DHC-3 Otter Archive Master Index

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c/n 401

9420 out of the water.
Photo: Sheldon D. Benner © May 1964 - Michael J. Ody Collection
9420 at the Toronto Island Airport dock.
Photo: Sheldon D. Benner © 01 May 1965 - Michael J. Ody Collection
9420 visits London - CYXU, Ontario.
Photo: Gary Vincent © 10 September 1970
9420 with 3669 (23) displaying at CFB Trenton.
Photos: Neil Aird © 10 June 1972
9420 winterized, at Toronto - CYYZ, Ontario.
Photos: Unknown photographer © 02 February 1975
C-GBQC on dry land at her Fort Frances base, Ontario.
Photo: John Kimberley © April 1993
C-GBQC motors along.
Photo: Rich Hulina © August 1993 - Michael J. Ody Collection
C-GBQC ready for ops.
Photos: Neil Aird © 12 July 1995
C-GBQC in and out of the water, at Fort Frances, Ontario.
Photo: Neil Aird © 13 September 2003
Photo: Ruben Husberg Collection © Date unknown
Photo: Tim Williams © August 2005 - Karl E. Hayes Collection
C-GBQC on dry land again.
Photo: Fred Barnes © 17 September 2009

c/n 401

9420

C-GBQC

x

• 9420 Royal Canadian Air Force. Delivered 14-Nov-1960. Designated as CSR-123.

Initially based at Sea Island, Vancouver on amphibious floats.

July 1961 it deployed to Yellowknife, YT. (See below for more).

Incident: Ten miles from Nanaimo, Vancouver Island. 12-Dec-1962, The aircraft force landed on the water.

Incident: Fraser River. 24th February 1963. An attempted take off unsuccessful because of blown cylinder

Accident: Location unknown. 2nd May 1963  Suffered a 'C' category accident and sustained buckling damage to its starboard float, in the course of a training detail.

21st February 1964, transferred to 411 Squadron based at CFB Downsview, ON.

Accident: Unknowm location. 25th June 1966. While taxying on a lake the floats came into contact with a shoal. The aircraft was beached and temporary repairs carried out. It was then flown out and returned to base.

Accident: Unknown location. 26th September 1974. During a flight out of Downsview. on a low-level navigation exercise, the aircraft came into contact with some wires. Although three feet of the vertical stabilizer and the entire rudder were lost, the pilot managed to land the Otter at Kingston, ON. It was repaired and returned to service.

17-Feb-1981, Withdrawn from service and put into storage at Mountain View, ON.

Total time: 5,458 hours.

• C-GBQC Ram Air Charter Ltd., Inuvik, NT. Regd Jul-1982. Canx 23-Jun-1983.

• C-GBQC Fort Frances Sportsmen Airways Ltd., Fort Frances, ON. Regd 12-Jun-1984. Canx 23-Mar -2012.

• C-GBQC Ookpik Aviation Ltd., Baker Lake, NU. Regd 29-Mar-2012.

Damaged

Otter 401 was delivered to the RCAF on 14th November 1960 with serial 9420. It was assigned to 442 Squadron at RCAF Station Sea Island, Vancouver on amphibious floats. It was to serve the Squadron for over three years. In July 1961 it deployed to Yellowknife, to support a visit to the Northwest Territories by the Canadian prime minister. The visit was being arranged by 111 Communications & Rescue Flight at Winnipeg but they needed an amphibious Otter. Accordingly, a 111 C&R crew went to Vancouver and borrowed 9420 which, as far as they were concerned, was a “VIP Otter”. 9420 and 3671 (26) of 111 C&R Flight flew from Winnipeg to Yellowknife. On 19th July 1961 the Prime Minister and Mrs. Diefenbaker were flown in 9420 from Yellowknife to Snare River and back the next day. Its VIP duties over, 9420 returned to Sea Island.

On 13th October 1962, the Otter suffered some damage in high winds. On 12th December 1962, 9420 force landed on the water ten miles from Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. Two Albatross aircraft, 9302 and 9305, from 121 Rescue Unit went to the assistance of the Otter, which was towed by boat to French Creek dock for repair. On 24th February 1963 an attempt to take off from the Fraser River was unsuccessful due to a blown cylinder. As darkness was falling, it was towed by boat to Steveston for the night and the following day it was towed to Kitsilano for repair. On 2nd May 1963, 9420 was involved in a 'C' category accident and sustained buckling damage to its starboard float, in the course of a training detail. The pilot was practicing rough water landings. The aircraft struck hard, bounced, and the captain took over from the student and applied full power. The aircraft stalled, but the power succeeded in cushioning the next touchdown, which was gentle. A normal take-off was made from calmer water and the Otter flown back to base, where a landing was safely made. The report found that the pilot had pulled the power off too early, let the aircraft settle, and buried  the nose of the starboard float in an oncoming wave. 9420 was flown to the Canadian Pacific Airlines depot at Lincoln Park, Calgary, Alberta for repair of the buckled float, before returning to 442  Squadron.

On 21st February 1964, as 442 Squadron was winding down, the Otter was transferred to 411 Squadron and flew across the country to its new base at Downsview, where it was to serve for the next seventeen years. It suffered another 'C' category incident on 25th June 1966 on a training flight. The pilot was taxying on a lake when the floats came in contact with a shoal. The aircraft was beached and temporary repairs carried out. It was then flown out and returned to base. The water was dark brown, making it difficult to spot submerged objects. Another 'C' category incident occurred on 26th September 1974 during a flight out of Downsview. While on a low-level navigation exercise, the aircraft came in contact with some wires. Although three feet of the vertical stabilizer and the entire rudder were lost, the pilot managed to land the Otter at Kingston, Ontario. It was repaired and continued to serve 411 Squadron until 17th February 1981, when it was withdrawn from service and went into storage at the Mountain View depot, Ontario.

The Otter was put up for disposal through the Crown Assets Disposal Corporation and was one of a number of Otters for sale by auction in February 1982, advertised as having 5,458 hours on the airframe. The purchaser of the Otter was Ram Air Charter Ltd., of Inuvik, Northwest Territories to whom the aircraft was registered C-GBQC in July 1982. The Otter flew for Ram Air during 1982 and 1983 but by early 1984 was parked at Inuvik and for sale. It was sold to Fort Frances Sportsmen Airways Ltd., of Fort Frances, Ontario to whom it was registered in June 1984. This company is associated with Northern Wilderness outfitters, serving fishing lodges in the Ontario outback, and twenty years later, in 2004, BQC was still flying for the company, still based at Fort Frances.

The Otter was put up for disposal through the Crown Assets Disposal Corporation by auction in February 1982, advertised for sale with total airframe hours of 5,458. The purchaser of the Otter was Ram Air Charter Ltd., of Inuvik, Northwest Territories to whom the Otter was registered C-GBQC in July 1982. It joined a fleet of single Cessnas, an Aztec, Baron and Islander serving the outlying settlements around Inuvik. The registration of the Otter to Ram Air Charter was cancelled on 23 June 1983 after which the Otter was parked at Inuvik for sale. It was sold to Fort Frances Sportsmen Airways Ltd of Fort Frances, Ontario to whom it was registered on 12 June 1984. This company was associated with Northern Wilderness Outfitters, serving fishing lodges in the Ontario outback from its base at Fort Frances. That same year the company also acquired Otters C-GMDG (302) and C-GUTL (365) which were converted to Vazar turbines. All three Otters supported the fishing lodges but BQC retained its R-1340 piston engine.

BQC continued to fly for Fort Frances Sportsmen / Northern Wilderness Outfitters for the next 26 years without incident. Over the winter of 2010 / 2011 considerable work was carried out on the aircraft by Lakeland Aviation at Fort Frances to prepare it for turbine conversion, at a cost of $300,000. The belly was re-skinned from firewall to tail and repainted and it was completely re-wired and a new honeycomb floor installed. The piston engine was removed. In March 2011 BQC was advertised for sale by brokers Lauriault Aviation as “ready to convert”, with an asking price of CDN$730,000. As of July 2011 it was still parked at Fort Frances, on wheels, with no engine. In January 2012 it was again advertised for sale, with total time of 15,625 hours, still “ready to convert”.

A sale was agreed to Ookpik Aviation Inc of Baker Lake, Nunavut and in early March 2012 the Otter was trucked westwards across the country, arriving at Langley Aero Structures at Langley, BC who were going to do the conversion. The Otter was registered as C-GBQC to Ookpik Aviation Inc., on 29 March 2012. Work then started at Langley to install a Garrett engine, as the Otter was to become Texas Turbine conversion # 44. At the same time, a new and advanced avionics upgrade in the cockpit was installed by Maxcraft Avionics. This was “to provide its pilots and owners with the modern tools, capabilities and logistical enhancements needed to operate with the highest margins of safety and reliability in one of the harshest environments on earth”.     

The installation was described by Maxcraft Avionics as follows: “The centre-pieces of this avionics upgrade are the Garmin G600 and GTN650 systems. Between a full-glass primary flight display, an ‘all-in-one’ GPS/Nav/Comm system and a huge touchscreen multifunction display, pilots get the increased situational awareness that comes with having relevant information on demand, compiled and presented at their fingertips. A GPS certified for primary navigation helps bush operators get close to a client’s desired co-ordinates and with Ookpik’s focus on STOL operations north of the treeline, their pilots are sure to get use out of real-time wind vector and velocity calculation – just one of the benefits of a modern air data computer. On the safety logistics end of things, this Super Otter was also equipped with a Latitude S200 ‘Skymode’ satellite tracking system, which provides not only tracking but also satellite voice, data and text communications to help owners keep tabs on their aircraft out in the wild”. The Otter was also painted into Ookpik’s white and blue colour scheme.

All this work took some time to complete, but by April 2013 it had been done and the Otter was noted at Langley undergoing pre-delivery engine tests. Boris Kotelewetz, the owner of Ookpik Aviation, came to Langley to take delivery of the aircraft and on 29 June 2013 it was flown from Langley to the Villeneuve Airport outside of Edmonton, Alberta. An incident was recorded on CADORS that day when the Otter flew two miles east of the Red Deer airport at 5,300 feet without making radio contact. After Villeneuce C-GBQC continued on to its new base at Baker Lake, Nunavut where it entered service with Ookpik Aviation, flying alongside its existing turbine Otter C-FPEN (439). Both Otters are heavily involved in supporting mineral exploration in the Nunavut region year round and flying tourists during the summer months.

The Ookpik Otters are occasionally called upon to assist in search and rescues. In July 2013 Otter BQC, on tundra tires, spent two days searching for a pair of American fishermen who went missing at Dubwant Lake, some 250 kilometres south west of Baker Lake. In February 2014 the Otter flew to Rankin Inlet to pick up six spotters and then went off in search of an overdue hunter, who was eventually found. Two RCAF Hercules had also been involved in the search. In May 2014 the Otter was at Silver Falls, Manitoba to have some work done. A number of subsequent incidents are recorded on CADORS:

29 June 2015.   Otter BQC en route Boullion Mining Camp to Rankin Inlet. Thirty nine miles out the pilot advised he was inbound with a sick passenger. Landed normally and the passenger was taken to the health centre.

15 October 2015.  Otter BQC en route Baker Lake to Arviat. After landing on the runway at Arviat, was unable to turn onto the apron due problems with the tail wheel steering, which was iced up. Calm Air flight was approaching for a landing. Pilot of Otter made decision to take off again to clear the runway and then landed on the apron, where they could remove the ice which had caused the tail wheel to become struck in the straight position.

30 May 2016.  BQC on local flight out of Churchill, Manitoba. Reported hitting a runway edge light on 07/25 while turning around.

During October 2016 both Otters BQC and PEN were noted at Arviat, flying in fuel drums and equipment.

4 November 2016.  Otter BQC at Churchill, Manitoba. On a local flight, taxied to position for departure from runway 25 then returned to the apron due to fluctuating oil pressure indication.

For summer 2018 both Otters BQC and PEN remained in service with Ookpik Aviation.

This from a TSB report in early July 2018:

C-GBQC, a de Havilland DHC3T aircraft operated by Ookpik Aviation, began takeoff on the sandy shoreline of Parker Lake, NU with the pilot and one passenger onboard. During the takeoff roll, the aircraft ran out of shore line and went into the water. The right main gear was torn off and the aircraft came to a rest in an upright position. The pilot and passenger were not injured and the aircraft sustained substantial damage. It was reported that the sandy shoreline was very soft.

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.