DHC-3 Otter Archive Master Index

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c/n 428

C-GLCS at Oshawa - CYOO, Ontario.
Photo: Peter Keating © August 1976 - Karl E. Hayes Collection
C-GLCS wearing winter gear.
Photo: Unknown photographer © Date unknown - Karl E. Hayes Collection
C-GLCS on the Fraser at CYVR.
Photo: Peter Keating © 23 June 1983 - Karl E. Hayes Collection
C-GLCS high and dry.
Photo: Andrew Brattkus © September 1983 - Karl E. Hayes Collection
C-GLCS when still piston powered.
Photo: Kenneth I. Swartz © 05 December 1984 - Karl E. Hayes Collection
C-GLCS at Geralton - CYGQ, Ontario.
Photo: Rich Hulina © April 2009 - Karl E. Hayes Collection

c/n 428

G309 • N17685

C-GLCS

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• G309 / A Ghana Air Force. Delivered 19-Mar-1962. Based at Takoradi Air Base. Withdrawn from service in 1978.

Note: The following registration CF-ZFN was allotted to Lambair Ltd., The Pas, MB. on 21-Apr-1971 who were considering a deal to purchase seven of the Ghanaian Otters. However the deal did not proceed and the allotment was withdrawn by Department of Transport 30-Apr-1971 after the deal fell through. . See notes below.

• N17685. Joseph V. Masin. Canx 14-Jul-1977.

• C-GLCS Air Craftsmen Ltd., St.John, NB. Reserved 26-Apr-1974.

• C-GLCS Skycraft Air Transport Inc., Oshawa, ON. Circa mid-1976.

• C-GLCS Purchased by a leasing company, (Detail currently unknown), with Bannock Aerospace of Toronto acting as consultants, Mar-1978.

• C-GLCS Leased to Adlair Aviation Ltd., Yellowknife, NT. Based at Cambridge Bay, NT. Regd circa Apr-1978.

• C-GLCS Sub leased to La Ronge Aviation Service, Yellowknife, NT. Regd Sep-1978.

• C-GLCS Returned to Adlair Aviation Ltd., Yellowknife, NT, based at Cambridge Bay, NT.  Regd Sep-1979. Canx 09-Feb-1983.

• C-GLCS Pellatt & Associates, Edmonton, AB., et al (Iain Mclellan, Richmond, BC) Canx 06-Jul-1973.

• C-GLCS Powell Air Ltd., Powell River, BC Canx 19-Dec-1985.

• C-GLCS RND Aviation Ltd., Leaf Rapids, MB. Regd Dec-1985.

• C-GLCS Leunenberger Air Service Ltd., Nakina, ON. Regd 13-Jul-1989. Canx 08-Aug-1989. Re-regd 08-Aug-1989. Canx 08-Jan-2007.

Power plant: Converted to a Vazar turbo Otter, the work being performed by Recon Air at Geraldton, ON, Date currently unknown.

• C-GLCS Alkan Air Ltd., Whitehorse, YT. Regd 08-Jan-2007. Canx 07-Aug-2012. Re regd 12-Jan-2013. Canx 07-May-2015.

Status unknown

Otter 428 was delivered to the Ghana Air Force on 19 March 1962 with serial G309. It was the tenth 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. Four of the Otters were written off in accidents over the years, leaving eight in service. During 1970 Lambair of Manitoba negotiated with the Ghana Air Force to purchase a number of these Otters, including 428 and marks CF-ZFN were reserved. However, no deal was concluded and G309 remained in the service of the Ghana Air Force. The Otters continued in service until 1973, when they were withdrawn and put up for sale.

The eight surviving Otters were acquired by brokers Masin Aircraft of Cologne, Germany.  By letter dated 12 March 1974 Masin Aircraft applied to the FAA to allocate US registrations for these eight Otters, including 428 which was registered to Joseph V. Masin as N17685. Masin Aircraft had also acquired an Otter from the US Army which was in store in Germany (189), giving it nine Otters and in March 1974 it advertised them all for sale. 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”.

Masin Aircraft sold all nine Otters 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 Air Craftsmen Ltd., reserved Canadian marks for all nine Otters, including C-GLCS for 428. Whereas most of the former Ghana Air Force Otters were flown back to Canada through Europe, 428 was put in a crate and shipped to St.John. It was then transported from St.John to Oshawa, Ontario where it was to be rebuilt. This rebuilding took place during 1976 and into 1977. The FAA registration was cancelled on 14 July 1977 and the Otter then registered as C-GLCS to Skycraft Air Transport Ltd., of Oshawa. It was painted yellow overall with blue trim.

In March 1978 it was sold by Skycraft Air Transport to a leasing company, with Bannock Aerospace of Toronto acting as consultants and was leased to Adlair Aviation Ltd., of Yellowknife. It passed through Edmonton in April 1978 on delivery to Yellowknife. Between September 1978 and September 1979 the Otter was operated by La Ronge Aviation Services based at Yellowknife and it then reverted to Adlair Aviation Ltd., to whom it was registered in September 1979.

For the next three and a half years, the Otter was flown by Adlair Aviation based out of Cambridge Bay, providing general charter service to this remote part of the Northwest Territories. It was the company’s only aircraft to start off with, but was later joined by a pair of Beech KingAirs. On one occasion the Otter was used to fly a crashed Cessna 185 from the crash scene, a lake north of Cambridge Bay, the fuselage of the Cessna strapped to the Otter’s floats. Sadly to relate, Adlair Aviation encountered financial difficulties and ceased trading towards the end of 1982. The Otter was repossessed by the leasing company and Adlair’s registration was cancelled on 9 February 1983. Fortunately the residents of Cambridge Bay were not without Otter service for long, as a new company called Adlair Aviation (1983) Ltd was soon formed and acquired Otter C-GVDM (361) in June 1983 which went on to fly from Cambridge Bay for many years.

Following the closure of the first Adlair Aviation, between February 1983 and December 1984 Otter C-GLCS was registered to Ian McLellan of Vancouver and Pellatt Associates of Edmonton, which related to the bankruptcy of the first Adlair Aviation company. In January 1985 it was acquired by Powell Air Ltd., of Powell River, BC and flew for that company throughout 1985. Powell River is on the BC Pacific Coast some fifty miles north of Vancouver but is accessible only by boat or seaplane.  LCS joined Otter C-FXUY (142) with Powell Air, flying scheduled services on floats, connecting Powell River with Vancouver. The registration was cancelled on 19 December 1985 when LCS was registered to RND Aviation Ltd., of Leaf Rapids, Manitoba. It was still in its yellow colour scheme with blue trim.

RND Aviation Ltd., was based at the River Base, eleven kilometres north of Leaf Rapids, Manitoba on the banks of the Churchill River. The company was founded by veteran bush pilot Donna Hohle and was associated with her other enterprise, Tee Pee Outfitters. As one article described: “Donna Hohle has been bush piloting for over thirty years from a base at Leaf Rapids on the Churchill River. She taught her husband to fly and her six children all help out with office and ground duties. She has hauled cargo and people into remote settlements and lakes, carried out tonnes of whitefish and furs, been stranded by bad weather and helped search for lost trappers and hunters”.  After a few years of operation on such work, flying alongside the company’s Cessna 185 and Beaver aircraft, the Otter was sold to Leuenberger Air Service Ltd., of Nakina, Ontario to whom it was registered on 13 July 1989.

After a few years of flying as a piston Otter, LCS was converted to a Vazar turbine by Skyservice at Echo Bay, Ontario on behalf of Leuenberger Air Service during the winter of 2003 / 2004. It flew alongside Leuenberger’s other turbine Otters LCX (172) and SOX (437). As its website proclaimed – “As all our cottages are accessible by air only, one of our Turbo De Havilland Otters will fly you and your party into the finest Walleye and Northern Pike fishing in unspoiled wilderness you can experience in Northern Ontario”. The three Otters were flown during the summer months only and usually spent the winters in store at Geraldton, Ontario in the care of Recon Air who performed the maintenance on them.

During winter 2005 Otter LCS was advertised for sale by Skyservice, acting on behalf of Leuenberger Air Service. The sale advert was testament to this Otter’s hard working life: “Paint is decent, not peeling or damaged, but faded. Interior is tired – all there but worn with a few tears in the fabric. Floats have some patches but are still tight and solid. Wheel gear and skis are good, serviceable units. Last on skis two years ago. Overall this is a good working Otter and its owners have kept it in good mechanical condition. Total time is 11,300 hours”.

For summer 2006 the Otter went on lease to Alkan Air of Whitehorse in the Yukon. It retained the Leuenberger colour scheme but with Alkan Air fuselage titles. The lease was extended into winter 2006/ 2007 and on 8 January 2007 the Otter was sold to Watson Leasing Ltd., who continued the lease to Alkan Air. Barry Watson is the owner of both Watson Leasing and Alkan Air. The Otter flew as part of Alkan Air’s fleet, serving the Yukon bush country year round. As one article on the company noted: “An old Twin Otter sits on the ramp at Whitehorse with an ancient Single Otter. The Otter has a new turbine engine mounted where its greasy radial once growled but even if you were too young to volunteer for the Korean War, this aeroplane is still older than you are!”

On 30 March 2008 a Cessna 206 on skis operated by Big Salmon Air was on a round robin flight from Faro, Yukon when it crashed on take-off at McMillan Pass. After dropping off cargo the Cessna attempted to take off but went off the end of the runway. The two occupants were uninjured but did not have adequate survival gear. Alkan Air Otter LCS flew over the crash site and dropped supplies and survival equipment. The occupants were collected by RCMP helicopter the next day. The Otter’s usual work was supporting mineral exploration and flying tourists, fishermen and hunters during the summer months. Over the winter of 2009 / 2010 it was painted into Alkan Air’s own red and white colour scheme, looking pristine despite its years.

It continued flying for Alkan Air until an accident on 2 July 2014. That month the Otter was based at Tungsten, located at the Cantung Mine in the Northwest Territories, just over the border from the Yukon, some 120 miles north of Watson Lake. The mine is a large open pit mine in the Mackenzie Mountains. On that day the Otter was operating cargo flights from Tungsten to the XY Airstrip in the Yukon. As the CADORS report explained: “During the landing sequence at the XY strip, the aircraft initially touched down hard and bounced. On the subsequent touchdown, the pilot felt the left gear contact the terrain but the right wing continued to settle beyond expected as the right gear collapsed. Power was applied to recover the landing but the right wing came into contact with terrain and the Otter rotated 180 degrees. The right main gear link joint assembly had failed. There was substantial damage to the aircraft but the pilot was not injured”.

After the necessary arrangements had been made, the wrecked Otter was slung out of the crash site by Bell 204 C-GFWI operated by Fireweed Helicopters of Whitehorse. It was airlifted to the nearest road, the Nahanni Range Road, the helicopter making two trips, one with the Otter fuselage and another with the engine and wings. The Otter was then trucked on the Campbell Highway and south to Vancouver International Airport for assessment. Very considerable damage had been caused in the crash and it was declared an insurance write off. Registration C-GLCS to Alkan Air was cancelled on 30 July 2015. Alkan Air subsequently acquired turbine Otter C-FDDX (165) to replace it.

The damaged Otter was subsequently purchased by Harbour Air and remained in store at its facility at Vancouver, awaiting a decision on its fate, either a rebuild or parting out. It was described as “borderline rebuildable” as many of the lower firewall fittings, which are hard to come by, had been badly damaged.  That remained the position as of spring 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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