DHC-3 Otter Archive Master Index

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c/n 418

C-GMAT of Mackenzie Air.
Photo: Martin Brooks © Date unknown - Karl E. Hayes Collection
C-GMAT on beaching gear, minus titles.
Photo: Unknown photographer © Date unknown - Karl E. Hayes Collection
N2783J from both sides, at Vancouver.
Photos: Andrew Brattkus © March 1983 - Karl E. Hayes Collection
N2783J of Tyee Airlines at Ketchikan.
Photo: Don Dawson © 08 April 1984 - Karl E. Hayes Collection
N2783J at Vancouver once again.
Photos: Andrew Brattkus © February 1985 - Karl E. Hayes Collection
"N27883J" oops. At Vancouver - CYVR, British Columbia.
Photo: John Kimberley © June 1985 - Karl E. Hayes Collection
N337AK in blue livery.
Photo: Unknown photographer © July 2002 - Karl E. Hayes Collection
N337AK in earlier colours.
Photo: Helge Nyhus © September 2006 - Karl E. Hayes Collection
N337AK at Juneau.
Photo: John W. Olafson © 18 May 2011

c/n 418

G303 • (CF-ZFJ) • N17680 • (C-GLCN) • XA-FEV • C-GMAT • N2783J

N337AK

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• G303 Ghana Air Force. Delivered on 8th May 1961.

During 1970, Lambair of Manitoba negotiated with the Ghana Air Force with a view to purchasing a number of their Otters, including 418.

• (CF-ZFJ) The registration was allotted to Lambair Ltd., The Pas. MB 21-Apr-1971. However the deal did not proceed and the The allotment was withdrawn by Department of Transport 30-Apr-1971.

• G303 Ghana Air Force. Continued in service until withdrawn in 1973 and offered for sale.

.• N17680 Joseph V. Masin, Rodenkirchen, West Germany. Regd 23-Jun-1974.

• (C-GLCN) Air Craftsmen Ltd., of St.John, NB. Res’d 26-Apr-1974. ntu.

• XA-FEV Aerosierra de Durango in October 1975.

• C-GMAT Mackenzie Air Ltd, Edmonton Municipal Airport, AB.

• C-GMAT La Ronge Aviation Services Ltd., La Ronge, SK. Regd 02-Sep-1976 Canx 16-Nov-1982.

Accident: Neultin Lake, NT. 23-Aug-1980. The pilot was engaged in transporting six passengers from Lynn Lake, Manitoba to a tourist camp at Neultin Lake. He attempted to take off from Neultin Lake in 3 to 4 foot waves but shortly before lift off the left float dug in and the Otter nosed over. Recovered by helicopter to Calgary, AB.

Note Kimba Air Ltd., purchased and rebuilt the aircraft from Jun-1982 but the aircraft remained registered to La Ronge.

• N2783J Harold J. Hansen / General Aircraft Supplies, Boeing Field, Seattle, WA.

• N2783J Tyee Airlines  Inc., Ketchikan, AK. Regd Apr-1983.

• N2783J Temsco Helicopters Inc., Ketchikan, AK. Regd Mar-1985.

• N2783J The fixed wing section of the company was renamed Temsco Airlines Inc.

Note: Temsco Helicopters had purchased Tyee Airlines and its aircraft.in Jan 1985. (Temsco was an acronym of the words: Timber, Exploration, Mining, Survey, Cargo Operations). November 1991, Temsco's fixed wing division was closed down in November 1991.

• N2783J Wings Airline Services Inc., dba Wings of Alaska, Juneau, AK. Regd Mar-1993.

• N337AK Alaska Juneau Aeronautics Inc., dba Wings of Alaska, Juneau, AK.  Regd Apr-1994.

• N337AK Alaska Coastal Airlines Inc., dba Wings of Alaska, Juneau, AK. Regd Apr 2002.

Power plant. Converted to a Texas Turbine Otter at Juneau. Winter 2003 / 2004.

• N337AK IPA Leasing Inc., Juneau, AK. Continued to operate under the Wings of Alaska banner. Regd 11-Aug-2008.

Current

Otter 418 was delivered to the Ghana Air Force on 8 May 1961 with serial G303. It was the fourth of an order for twelve Otters, all of which were packed into crates and shipped to Ghana, where they were re-assembled. They were based at Takoradi Air Base. During 1970 Lambair of Manitoba negotiated with the Ghana Air Force, with a view to purchasing a number of their Otters, including 418 and marks CF-ZFJ were reserved, but no deal was concluded and G303 remained in the service of the Ghana Air Force.

Four of the Ghana Air Force Otters were written off in service and the surviving eight were withdrawn from use in 1973 and put up for sale. In 1973 a deal was agreed with someone in Togo, which adjoins Ghana, which saw G303 painted in a revised colour scheme based on the Air Force scheme, white on top, red cheatline and rudder, black under-fuselage and have registration 5V-AGA painted on the fuselage side, although it appears the Otter was never formally registered in Togo. It was noted in Togo tied down in outside storage in late 1973, as was Beaver 5V-AGC. The deal did not proceed and G303 returned to Ghana.

It was one of the eight surviving Ghana Air Force Otters all of which were acquired by brokers Masin Aircraft of Cologne, Germany. By letter dated 12 March 1974 Masin Aircraft applied to the FAA for registrations for all eight aircraft, and N17680 was allocated for G303. They were then put up for sale in March 1974 by Masin Aircraft, advertised as “priced to sell, single or in lot”. Included in the sale was one former US Army Otter (serial 189), which Masin Aircraft had acquired and which was in Germany, and the advert in Flight Magazine read: “Nine Otters available with all supporting ground equipment. Tools, spare engines, spare parts for engines and airframes. Two sets of amphibious floats, one set of normal floats”.  Otter 418 was registered to Joseph V. Masin of Rodenkirchen, West Germany as N17680.

All nine Otters were sold by Masin Aircraft to Air Craftsmen Ltd., of St.John, New Brunswick, a company which specialised in buying, refurbishing and selling on ex military Otters. On 26 April 1974 marks C-GLCN were reserved for the Otter but in the event were not taken up and it was arranged that the aircraft would be flown to Canada using its American registration, N17680. Ferry pilots were employed by Air Craftsmen to fly the Otters from Takoradi Air Base, Ghana to St.John, New Brunswick. The full delivery routing is unfortunately unknown, but N17680 routed Biarritz to Gatwick on 23 June 1974, continuing on to Fairoaks where it was to remain for nearly two months while ferry tanks were installed by Mann Aviation. On 28 August 1974 it flew Fairoaks-Bembridge-Prestwick, before setting off on the long ocean crossing, via Reykjavik and Greenland to St.John. On arrival it entered the Air Craftsmen hangar where it was overhauled and civilianised and made ready for the next stage of its career.

By September 1975 the Otter was ready and Air Craftsmen agreed to sell this Otter, as well as Otter 431, another of the former Ghana Air Force Otters to Peter Pess of San Diego, California, who was involved with a Mexican airline known as Aerosierra de Durango. The two Otters were registered to Aerosierra de Durango in October 1975, 418 becoming XA-FEV and 431 becoming XA-FEU and they set off from St.John across the North American continent to Brown Field, San Diego and then further south to their new base at Durango in Mexico. They were painted white, with a red cheatline outlined in gold.

The two Otters were acquired for a specific contract, to transport personnel to lumber camps high in the Sierra Madre mountains. Their base at Durango was at an altitude of 8,000 feet and some of the dirt strips they flew into were 13,500 feet up in the mountains. The two Otters were fitted with larger than usual propellers to help them with these high altitudes. They replaced a Ford Tri Motor which the company had used for years on this task. The Otters were operated in “high density” configuration – eight rows of three  place benches. Despite the arduous conditions, both Otters operated these services without mishap and survived their adventures in the Mexican mountains.

Otter 418 was the first of the two to leave Mexico. On 6 August 1976 a ferry permit was issued for XA-FEV to leave Mexico via Tijuana, with an ultimate destination of Edmonton. First however the Otter was flown to Brown Field, San Diego where it was to be overhauled before its next assignment. A new engine was installed by Peter Pess. He asked his friend Chuck Ross, who had three thousand hours of tail-dragger time, to accompany him as they put a few hours on the new engine. As Chuck Ross relates: “On 15 August 1976 we took off from San Diego, Lindbergh Field in XA-FEV and flew up the coast, just sight-seeing. We turned inland and landed at Carlsbad, parking at Marginal Airmotive, where they restored warbirds. Even with a P-40, a P-47 and a Fiesler Storch parked on the ramp, we drew a crowd. We chatted with the people for a while and then flew to Ramona, an air tanker base during the fire season. Again, we drew a crowd. There were a couple of C-119s and an S2F there but people came from all over the field to gawk at the Otter. From there we flew to Montgomery Field for the FAA to have a look at the plane and then returned to San Diego”.

From San Diego the Otter continued on to Edmonton, where on arrival it was registered C-GMAT to Mackenzie Air Ltd, based at Edmonton Municipal Airport. It retained its former colour scheme but acquired Mackenzie Air Sask Ltd., fuselage titles. This company was a subsidiary of La Ronge Aviation Services and on 31 August 1976 C-GMAT flew on to La Ronge, Saskatchewan. On 2 September 1976 it was registered to La Ronge Aviation Services Ltd and entered service with them, based at La Ronge. It replaced Otter CF-PNV (126) which had crashed, and flew alongside Otter CF-BEO (373), Beavers and Twin Otters in the La Ronge fleet. It continued in service until a crash at Neultin Lake, Northwest Territories on 23 August 1980. The pilot was engaged in transporting six passengers from Lynn Lake, Manitoba to a tourist camp at Neultin Lake. He attempted to take off from Neultin Lake in 3 to 4 foot waves but shortly before lift off the left float dug in and the Otter nosed over. The pilot had earlier landed on a sheltered bay near the camp but felt that this was too short for the take-off so he used the main lake which was exposed to 30 knot winds.

That crash marked the end of the Otter’s career with La Ronge Aviation Services. It was fished out of Neultin Lake by helicopter and transported by road to Calgary, where it arrived 11 June 1981. It was sold by La Ronge to Kimba Air Ltd., on 22 June, who rebuilt the Otter and on 16 November 1982 it was sold to Harold J. Hansen / General Aircraft Supplies of Boeing Field, Seattle and registered N2783J. He sold it on and in April 1983 the Otter was registered to Tyee Airlines Inc., of Ketchikan, Alaska joining their existing Otters N9895B (194) and N68086 (288).   N2783J entered service as part of the Tyee Airlines fleet, on charter work out of Ketchikan.

In January 1985 Temsco helicopters, another Ketchikan-based operator, purchased Tyee Airlines and its aircraft. N2783J was registered to Temsco Helicopters Inc in March 1985 and was noted on overhaul at Vancouver during May prior to entering service with Temsco Airlines, as it became known. By 1989 Temsco were operating a fleet of nine Otters, on scheduled services and charters out of Ketchikan. All however did not go well and in November 1991 Temsco’s fixed wing division was closed down, although its helicopter division continued. After a period “at rest”, N2783J was purchased by Wings Airline Services Inc. trading as Wings of Alaska and registered to them in March 1993, painted in the company’s blue and white colour scheme. In April 1994 it was re-registered N337AK to Alaska Juneau Aeronautics Inc., trading as Wings of Alaska and continued flying as part of their Otter fleet, the main business being flying cruise ship passengers on sight-seeing flights. In April 2002 there was a change of registered owner to Alaska Coastal Airlines Inc of Juneau but all the time remaining part of the Wings of Alaska operation.

N337AK was converted to a Texas Turbine Otter during the winter of 2003 / 2004, the work undertaken at Juneau. A minor incident was recorded on12 May 2004 when N337AK ran into sister ship N336AK (333) while docking in Juneau Harbour. Only superficial damage was caused and both Otters were soon back in service. N337AK arrived at Vernon, BC on 5 October 2006 for a repaint and installation of a new interior by Kal Air.  Scheme was white overall with a red cheatline when it arrived and it was re-painted into a new scheme of orange and white and departed Vernon on 7 April 2007 for return to Juneau.

On 27 October 2008 the Otter was re-registered to Wings Airways Ltd., Juneau. The employees of Wings of Alaska had purchased the floatplane sight-seeing division of the airline, which was rebranded as Wings Airways. On 18 January 2012 the Otter was registered to IPA Leasing Inc, “IPA” standing for Inside Passage Aviation. All the while N337AK continued to fly for Wings Airways, one of its five turbine Otters, whose main business is providing sight-seeing flights for tourists visiting Juneau during the summer months, who arrive on cruise liners which ply the Inside Passage.  N337AK continued on this business for 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.

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