DHC-3 Otter Archive Master Index

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c/n 421

C-FMES-X roll out at Edmonton Municipal, Alberta.
Photos: John Kimberley © May 1978 - Karl E. Hayes Collection
C-FMES-X at Edmonton Municipal, Alberta.
Photo: Unknown photographer © June 1978 - Karl E. Hayes Collection
N4247A with test equipment, at Renton, Washington.
Photo: Aviation Archives © July 1981 - Karl E. Hayes Collection
Photo: Rob Woodling © September 1981 - Karl E. Hayes Collection
N4247A stored wingless.
Photos: Andrew Brattkus © August 1982 - Karl E. Hayes Collection
N4247A hangared, looking very hurt.
Photos: John Kimberley © June 1987 - Karl E. Hayes Collection

c/n 421




(09-Mar-1960 CF-MES allotted to DHC-3 msn 204 for de Havilland Aircraft of Canada Ltd).

(21-Apr-1961 Above allotment cancelled and CF-MES re-allotted to DHC-4 msn 400 - not taken up).

05-May-1961 CF-NMK allotted to DHC-3 msn 421 (Marks not taken up, they were re-allotted to a Bell 47 NOV-1961).

16-May-1961 Application for Certificate of Registration by McMurray Air Service Ltd.

26-May-1961Certificate of Airworthiness #8653 issued. (CF-MES now available).

26-May-1961 Certificate of Registration #27057 issued to McMurray Air Service Ltd., Uranium City, SK.

• CF-MES McMurray Air Services Ltd., Uranium City, SK. Delivered 26-May-1961.

Incident 30th April 1962, The aircraft, was then operating from the Decca Green Station on Brock Island, still engaged on Polar Continental Shelf Project duties. The Otter made a forced landing at a point ten miles from Cape Murray as a result of a failed cylinder. The engine was repaired and the Otter returned to service the same day.

01-Oct-1969 Lease Agreement; McMurray Air Service Ltd., to Gateway Aviation Ltd., for 10 years .

20-Oct-1969 Application for Certificate of Registration by Gateway Aviation Ltd., Edmonton ,AB.

21-Oct-1969 Certificate of Registration issued to Gateway Aviation Ltd (during term of lease from McMurray Air Service Ltd), Edmonton, AB.

CF-MES Gateway Aviation Ltd., Edmonton, AB. Regd 21-Oct-1969.

Incident: at W69.10N/107.02, 24-Aug-1973. Engine failure while flying below a 1,000’ ceiling en route Cambridge Bay to a fishing camp, landed straight ahead on gravel, extensive damage, no injuries to G.J. Prouty and four passengers.

23-Oct-1973 insurance adjuster sells wreck to Fred H. Ross Associates Ltd., Yellowknife, NT.

27-Nov-1974 Bill of Sale; Fred H. Ross Associates Ltd., to Raymond S. Cox, Edmonton, AB. $6,500

CF-MES Raymond S. Cox, Edmonton, AB. Regd date unknown .

CF-MES Cancelled from Canadian Civil Aircraft Register 25-Oct-1975.

04-Apr-1977 Coxair request C-GRAY for DHC-3 Otter msn 421, marks are not available, C-FMES provisionally re-allotted to 421.

06-Jul-1978 Cox Air Resources apply for Experimental Flight Test Permit for PT6A-27 conversion of C-FMES. Test pilot to be Joseph Gerald Wesphal.

17-Aug-1978 Bill of Sale; Raymond S. Cox to Cox Air Resources Ltd, Edmonton, AB.

28-Aug-1978 application for Certificate of Registration by CoxAir Resources Ltd., Edmonton, AB.

29-Aug-1978 Temporary 90 day Certificate of Registration (Private) & Experimental Flight Permit issued to evaluate flying characteristics, C-FMES-X.

C-FMES-X CoxAir Resources Ltd., Edmonton, AB. 29-Aug-1978.

Power plant. Converted to turbine power by CoxAir.

20-Sep-1978 By this date, 11 test flights, flying time approximately 12 hours.

30-Nov-1978 Experimental Flight Permit validity extended to 29-mMar-1979

24-Apr-1981 Ray Cox and CF-MES-X had moved to Renton, WA., by this date.

04-May-1981 FAA issue Foreign Civil Aircraft Special Flight Authorization #ANW-280 to C-FMES for flight testing in the State of Washington.

05-May-1981 Cox advises Department of Transport  that C-FMES has been moved to Renton, WA., to continue STC work.

14-May-1981 Provisional marks C-FMES cancelled on export to USA.

Total time since new as recorded in Canadian Department of Transport archives

30-Jan-1962 - 294 hours

30-Jan-1963 - 804 hours

30-Jan-1964 - 1,647 hours

26-Jan-1965 - 2,208 hours

17-Feb-1966 - 2,288 hours

09-Feb-1967 - 3,291 hours

21-Dec-1967 - 3,744 hours

03-Feb-1969 - 4,434 hours

20-Jan-1970 - 5,075 hours

26-Feb-1971 - 5,874 hours

11-Jan-1971 - 6,457 hours

30-Jan-1973 - 6,898 hours

N4247A Cox Aircraft Corp. Jun-1981.

Accident: Alki Point, WA. 19th December 1984. Forced landing following loss of power. More information below.

N4247A Cox Aircraft Corp., Washington Inc. 14-Jan-1985.

 N4247A Canx from FAA register 15-Feb-2015 as expired.

Status unknown

Otter 421 was delivered to McMurray Air Services Ltd., of Uranium City, Saskatchewan on 26th May 1961 registered CF-MES. It was the company's third Otter, following CF-JXR (202) and CF-LAP (289), and it replaced JXR which had been lost in an accident on 29th April 1961 while engaged in supporting the Polar Continental Shelf Project (PCSP). Immediately after delivery, MES headed north to support the PCSP, taking over from JXR, based at Isachsen in the High Arctic. An incident was recorded on 30th April 1962, MES then operating from the Decca Green Station on Brock Island, still engaged on PCSP duties. The Otter made a forced landing at a point ten miles from Cape Murray as a result of a failed cylinder. The engine was repaired and the Otter returned to service the same day.

McMurray Air Services eventually lost the PCSP contract to Bradley Air Services, and in October 1969 was taken over by Gateway Aviation Ltd of Hangar 13, Industrial Airport, Edmonton. The three otters then operated by McMurray Air Services, CF-ITS (90), CF-LAP (289) and CF-MES (421) were registered to Gateway Aviation on 21st October 1969 and entered service with Gateway Aviation, primarily in the Northwest Territories. Otter MES was used to support a NASA geological expedition to the True North Pole, with John Cameron as pilot and Ray Cox as Flight Engineer. MES continued to fly for Gateway Aviation until an accident on 24th August 1973. The Otter had taken off from Cambridge Bay en route to a fishing camp. It was flying below a one thousand foot ceiling when the engine failed due to fuel contamination, and the Otter force landed in rough gravel terrain at position

69.10 North 107.02 West. The engine broke away from the airframe and there was extensive damage to the wings, fuselage and floats. According to the accident report, the aircraft was “destroyed”

Despite the severity of the crash, the occupants were uninjured and walked to the fishing camp three miles away. Alouette helicopter CF-QCV was in the vicinity and relayed the 'Mayday' call from the Otter. Cessna 180 CF-NYO attempted to go to the rescue, but was unable due to adverse weather. Gateway arranged for Northward Aviation Twin Otter CF-JCH to pick up the passengers and return them to Cambridge Bay. It was unable to do so that day due to weather obscured, one quarter mile visibility in light rain and fog, but completed the rescue the following day. That was the end   of the Otter's career with Gateway Aviation. It became the property of the insurers, who sold it to Fred H.Ross & Associates of Edmonton, who on 4th December 1974 sold it on to Mr Ray Cox for $6,500, who had flown with the Otter while a flight engineer with Gateway Aviation. He retrieved it from the accident site and brought it back to Edmonton.

Ray Cox had been working on a project to convert the Otter to turbine power, and set about re- building MES as the prototype of the Cox Turbo Otter, complete with a PT-6 turbine engine. On completion of the re-build, the Otter was registered CF-MES-X to Cox Air Resources Inc, Hangar 3, Municipal Airport, Edmonton in April 1977 and commenced test flying, with a view to achieving certification of the turbine conversion. The Otter was noted at the Canadian Armed Forces base at Cold Lake, Alberta during December 1978. Efforts at achieving certification continued for some years, and by May 1981 the project had been relocated from Edmonton to Renton Airfield, Seattle, Washington. In June 1981 the Otter was registered N4247A to Cox Aircraft Corporation, Renton. The project was later moved from Renton to Boeing Field, Seattle. The certification process proved a lengthy one, and the Otter was still engaged on test flying when an accident occurred on 19th December 1984 at Alki Point, five miles from Boeing Field.

To quote from the accident report: “The aircraft was performing test flight manoeuvres when problems with the modified fuel system occurred. Ice blocking a fuel vent line caused a partial collapse of the main (engine feed) fuel cell, which produced an erroneous fuel quantity reading. In addition, the main tank overflow shut-off valve was leaking, so tank over-flow occurred. The fuel overflow caution light illuminated and the auxiliary tank fuel pump feed to the main tank automatically shut down. Due to mis-calibration, this system over-rode the pilot's attempts to re-start the auxiliary fuel pumps. The pilot remained in the test area, troubleshooting, rather than making an immediate return to base, noting that the main tank gauge continued to read full. En route to Boeing Field, fuel starvation occurred. The pilot opted to attempt a forced landing in a small sports field in a residential area rather than ditching in the Puget Sound. The aircraft touched down in the intended landing area, then bounced across an adjacent street. The arresting action of telephone wires on the vertical fin brought the aircraft to rest in a residential backyard”.

There were three on board the aircraft. Pilot Hal Joines (61) and an instrumentation engineer were uninjured. There was also a flight engineer who sustained a leg injury. Some further details from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer newspaper: “I've bailed out a few times, but this is the first time I ever crashed, said veteran pilot Joines, clad in blue coveralls, relaxed and easygoing as he talked with reporters near the crash scene. We had been working over the Olympic Peninsula for about an hour, testing anti-icing mechanisms of the engine, and were headed back to Boeing Field when we began to get a loss of fuel pressure and the engine quit at 1,500 feet over Alki Point. I feathered the prop and was trying to make a wide street (Alki Avenue SW) but there was too much traffic. I saw the Bar- S Ball Field and tried to make an emergency landing there, but I overshot. We were going too fast and we hit the power lines and the garage roof. I'm depressed. We lost an airplane, a good airplane”.

The newspaper described the scene: “The airplane's tail wheel was resting on a garage, and the nose was stuck in the back yard at 3053, 64th Avenue SW. One wing of the blue and white aircraft hung over the alley, the other touched the house. The rudder assembly was hanging from utility wires in a front yard about 50 yards away. The top branches of a nearby tree were shredded where the aircraft had passed between the ground and other utility wires”. The wrecked Otter was taken to Boeing Field, where it languished for months, being subsequently moved to Arlington Airport north of Seattle. The month after the crash, in January 1985, the Otter was re-registered to Cox Aircraft Company of Washington Inc. Sadly however this crash marked the end of the Cox Turbo Otter, which despite an immense effort by Mr Ray Cox over the years, had run out of luck, and money.

The crash had an interesting sequel in the courts. The “residential backyard” where the Otter had come to rest belonged to a Mr. Douglas Crosby, who had to spend $3,199-89 in repairs to his garage roof. He sued Cox Aircraft Company of Washington and on 4th November 1985 the Superior Court for King County, Washington entered judgement in his favour, holding that Cox Aircraft Company was strictly liable for the damages. In other words, as Mr Crosby clearly had done nothing wrong, he was entitled to recover his damages regardless of other considerations from the owners of the Otter which had caused the damage. Under normal circumstances, any person claiming damages would have to prove that the person he sued was guilty of negligence before he could recover damages, but the judge ruled this was not necessary in this case.

Although the amount of money involved was small, there was an important point of legal principle involved, whether a person on the ground who suffered damage from an aircraft, even one on a test flight, was entitled to recover damages automatically, or did that person have to prove that the operator of the aircraft was negligent before he could recover damages. In this case, Mr Crosby had not proved any negligence on the part of the Cox Aircraft Company, who appealed to a higher court. In cases such as this, involving important points of principle, other interested parties are allowed to make arguments. Mr.Crosby was supported by the Washington Trial Lawyer's Association, who were all in favour of the strict liability argument, in other words, no proof of negligence required. On the other hand, Cox Aircraft Company was supported by the Boeing Company, who strongly argued that the liability of aircraft owners and operators for ground damage should be governed by a negligence standard. The appeal was heard by the Supreme Court of Washington State in December 1987, who decided in favour of the Cox Aircraft Company. Otter N4247A had certainly made its mark on the law, clarifying this important legal point.

Full history up to 2005 courtesy of Karl E Hayes from DHC-3 Otter - A History (CD-ROM 2005)