DHC-3 Otter Archive Master Index

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c/n 404

9422 at the Canadian National Exhibition on the Toronto waterfront.
Photos: Neil Aird © 06 September 1970
C-GFUT with Buffalo Airways.
Photo: Unknown photographer © June 1982 - Karl E. Hayes Collection
C-GFUT at Cargair's Saint Michel-des-Saints base.
Photo: Karl E. Hayes © May 2001
C-GFUT of NORPAQ, at Saint-Hyacinthe - CSU3, Québec.
Photo: Alain Rioux © 11 October 2009
C-GFUT arriving at camp site.
Photos: Norpaq Aviation © from NORPAQ website

c/n 404




• 9422 Royal Canadian Air Force. Delivered 07-Dec-1960. Designated as CSR-123.

Initially assigned to 424 Squadron, Hamilton, ON.

Feb-1964. Assigned to 411 Squadron, CFB Downsview, ON.

Oct-1975. Served with 117 Air Transport Unit (ATU) on United Nations duties in Kashmir.

27-May-1966. Returned to 411 Squadron, CFB Downsview, ON.

21-Aug-1981. Into storage at CFB Mountain View depot, ON and put up for disposal through the Crown Assets Disposal Corporation.

Total Time of 7,589 hours.

• C-GFUT Buffalo Airways Ltd, Fort Smith, NT. Regd 22-Sep-1982.

• C-GFUT Cargair Ltée., Lac Kaiagamac, St. Michel-des-Saintes, QC. Regd 11-Jul-1983 & 30-Jun-1998. Canx 24-Aug-1998.

• C-GFUT Nordplus (1988) Ltée, Schefferville,-Squaw Lake, QC. Regd Aug-1998. 15-Feb-2000, 26-Aug-2003, 16-Aug-2007. Canx 06-Mar-2009. Regd 07-Apr-2009 & 06-Oct-2009. 

Note. Owned and operated by Norpaq, Schefferville, QC since 1998. Actual date unknown.

Power plant; Converted to Garrett TPE 331-10 Turbine winter 2012.


Otter 404 was delivered to the RCAF on 7 December 1960 with serial 9422. It was assigned to 424 Squadron at Hamilton, Ontario where it served until February 1964, when it was assigned to 411 Squadron at Downsview. The following year it was one of three Otters selected for service with 117 Air Transport Unit on United Nations (UN) duties in Kashmir, the other two being 9406 (365) and 9423 (405).

9422 arrived with 102 Communications Unit at Trenton on 23 September 1965 where it was prepared for shipment and painted in all-white colour with UN titles. It was packed on board an RCAF Hercules and flown to Lahore in Pakistan, where it arrived on 8 October 1965. The three Otters, as well as three Caribous, supported the UN India Pakistan Observation Mission, providing air transport as required for personnel of the Mission, including reconnaissance flights along the ceasefire line. From their base at Lahore, there were regular flights to Rawalpindi and New Delhi. The Otters were also used on a scheduled service, UNSF 10/11, routing Lahore-Jammu-Rajouri-Punch-Rawalpindi and return each Friday.  The three Otters served with 117 ATU until early March 1966 when they were returned by Hercules to Trenton. 9422 was re-assembled and re-painted into RCAF colours and then re-assigned to 411 Squadron at Downsview, which it joined on 27 May 1966.

9422 served with 411 Squadron for more than fifteen years until 21 August 1981, when it was flown into retirement at the Mountain View depot, Ontario. It was put up for disposal through the Crown Assets Disposal Corporation and was one of the Otters sold at auction in February 1982, advertised as having total airframe time of 7,589 hours. It was sold to Buffalo Airways Ltd., of Fort Smith, Northwest Territories, with marks C-GFUT provisionally allocated and passed through Toronto on 21 June 1982 on delivery, routing Toronto-Parry Sound-Wawa-Kenora-Yorkton (Sask)-Vermillion (Alberta)-Edmonton Municipal. After overhaul in Edmonton it was formally registered to Buffalo Airways Ltd., in September 1982 and entered service, still in basic RCAF scheme.

The following year it was sold to Cargair Ltée of Lac Kaiagamac, Québec to whom it was registered in July 1983. When it entered service with Cargair it still carried its Canadian military scheme of natural metal with white upper fuselage, with Cargair fuselage titles. It was eventually re-painted into the company’s blue and white colours. It flew for Cargair for the next fifteen years, serving the bush country of Quebec. Much of the company’s business was flying fishermen, hunters and tourists. There follows a description of a typical tourist canoe charter using the Otter:

“A significant part of paddling the Little Whale River is accessing its waters. The fact that the nearest the river comes to any kind of road is 150 miles means that this involves a flight in a floatplane. We had selected an outfit known as Cargair. This was the only flight service offering float plane access to the North and their northern Outpost was based out of LG4, a tiny cluster of houses near the fourth dam upstream of James Bay on the La Grande River”.

“Reaching LG4 required driving north for sixteen hours before turning off the paved James Bay highway. At this point a 150 mile long gravel road was driven to LG4. By the evening we reached the sign for Cargair and pulled off the road onto a dirt driveway. The driveway led to a few trailers on a rise overlooking a small lake with a dock housing a Single Otter floatplane and a small landing area for a helicopter. We met the pilot of the Otter, Martin, and confirmed our flight for the following day. We spent the night in one of the trailers”.

“The next day a bluebird morning greeted us while moving our gear down to the plane. Every item had to be weighed on a huge metal scales. Martin helped us load the gear into the Otter and the canoes were tied to the left float of the old Otter, C-GFUT. Inside the plane a blue tarp was secured over the gear and a few old metal seats were folded down for the five of us. Since it was the first flight of the day, Martin had to take the plane through a complete engine check routine. The huge engine fired up and the chugging noise of the propeller and banging pistons became quite loud. For fifteen minutes the Otter taxied around the lake while it warmed up. A few times Martin increased power to the maximum level to ensure that the engine would not fail during take-off. The plane would rock and vibrate as the power increased. After a flap check the craft was pointed into wind and when the engine roared to full power again the plane started skipping over the water at an ever increasing speed. The Otter smoothly took to the air and headed for Lac Mollet where we landed an hour and a half later”.

“The Otter taxied to the beach where it was unloaded in less than ten minutes. Martin wished us luck and was soon on his way. The empty plane shot into the sky in no time. After heading away from us, Martin banked hard and headed over our position, climbed quickly and headed for home, leaving us deep in the wilderness”.

Having flown for Cargair for fifteen years, the Otter was sold to Nordplus (1988) Ltée., of Schefferville, Québec to whom C-GFUT was registered in August 1998, based on floats at Squaw Lake, Schefferville. This company served the remote bush country of northern Québec, heavily involved in flying fishermen and hunters during the summer months, and during the autumn caribou hunting season. Norpaq Adventures was the parent company of Nordplus (1988) Ltee and owned and operated two outfitting companies – George River Lodge and Club Chateauquay. It had an agreement with the Naskapi Nation to share hunting territories north of Schefferville. Otter FUT flew the hunting guests north out of Schefferville each season. The Otter went into store each winter with Ray Air Maintenance at St.Hyacinthe, Québec.

One of the company’s aircraft was Beaver C-FODG, which was destroyed in an accident twenty miles northwest of the Schefferville base on 1 September 2005. The accident report into the Beaver crash  published by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada gives a good account of the company’s activities and those of the Otter:  “The outfitter company has its base of operations at Squaw Lake, three miles from Schefferville. The company sells hunting and fishing excursion packages for various sites north of Squaw Lake. Nordplus is an air carrier company that supplies air services to the outfitter, carrying clients, staff, baggage and supplies to the various camps throughout the outfitter’s territory. Most of the work is seasonal, beginning in June and ending in September. Nordplus operates a Cessna 185, a Beaver and an Otter”.

“On the day in question the Beaver departed Squaw Lake for a round trip VFR flight to two wilderness camps, Camp 2 and Camp Pons. The pilot reported having landed at Camp 2 by means of a radio relay through the company Otter. The passengers deplaned from the Beaver, which then took off for Camp Pons for a caribou meat pick-up. Given the strong south-east winds, it is estimated that C-FODG would have taken two hours to complete the return flight from Camp Pons to Squaw Lake”.

“Otter C-GFUT completed a similar flight from the north to Squaw Lake, leaving shortly after the Beaver. The flight took the Otter just over two hours. Weather had deteriorated significantly while heading south, causing the Otter pilot to deviate from the direct route to maintain visual reference with the ground. The Beaver also encountered this adverse weather and made a precautionary landing on Elross Lake to await a clearance in the weather. The pilot of the Beaver spoke to the Otter and was advised that the weather remained poor and that a flight from Elross Lake to Squaw Lake should not be attempted. The forecast for Squaw Lake was continuing low ceilings, low visibility in rain showers, strong winds and turbulence. Unfortunately the Beaver did attempt the flight but struck a ridge and was destroyed, the pilot sadly being killed in the crash. When C-FODG failed to arrive at the Squaw Lake base camp, rescue efforts were undertaken. Weather continued to be poor until that evening, when the Otter pilot and an observer took off to start a search. The evening search was unsuccessful but rescue efforts continued the next morning, when the crash site was found”.

Otter FUT continued flying for Nordplus in the years that followed. At the end of the summer 2010 season it was put up for sale. It was in store at St.Hyacinthe at that stage and was advertised with total time of 20,027 hours and an asking price of $675,000. There was then a change of mind and it was decided to retain the Otter and have it converted to a turbine. This work was carried out by Recon Air at Geraldton, Ontario over the winter of 2011 / 2012 and the Otter converted with the Garrett TPE-331 engine, becoming Texas Turbine conversion # 43. It was also painted into a new colour scheme of white with a red cheatline, ‘N’ on the tail and small Norpaq titles on the fuselage.

FUT flew for Nordplus as a turbine for summer 2012. It was in storage at Kuujjuaq, Québec, tied down in outside storage over the winter of 2012 / 2013. It flew for Nordplus in the years that followed during the summer months and in store at St.Hyacinthe during the winters. An incident was recorded on CADORS on 2 April 2015 as the Otter was flying north from St.Hyacinthe to Kuujjuaq for the start of the summer 2015 season. At 85 miles south west of its destination at Kuujjuaq, FUT entered the Mandatory Frequency Area without communicating with the FSS. It only communicated with the FSS when it was six miles south of Kuujjuaq and at 13,000 feet.

C-GFUT remained in service with Nordplus during summer 2018.

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.