DHC-3 Otter Archive Master Index

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c/n 432

CF-OTX minus motive power at Ottawa / Uplands - CYOW, Ontario.
Photo: Seldon D. Benner © 04 July 1971 - Michael J. Ody Collection

c/n 432



Entries preceded by date are extracts from Canadian Department of Transport archives

02-Sep-1962 Certificate of Airworthiness #9738 issued.

20-Sep-1962 Certificate of Registration #28428 issued to Aluminium Company of Canada Ltd., Montréal, QC.

21-Sep-1962 Application for Certificate of Registration by Aluminium Company of Canada Ltd., Montréal, QC..

• CF- OTX. Demerara Bauxite Company Ltd., delivered 09-Oct-1962 This company was a subsidiary of the Aluminium Company of Canada. (See note below).

• CF- OTX Leased to Terra Surveys Ltd., for a few months from May 1968.

04-Mar-1969 Bill of Sale; Aluminum Company of Canada Ltd., to Bradley Air Services Ltd.

1964,1966 & 1967 Certificate of Airworthiness inspections were completed by pilot / AME T.M Wilson at Mackenzie, British Guiana (later Guyana).

09-May-1969 application for Certificate of Registration by Bradley Air Services Ltd., Carp, ON.

12-May-1969 Certificate of Registration issued to Bradley Air Services Ltd., Carp, ON.

• CF- OTX Bradley Air Services Ltd., Carp, ON. Regd 12-May-1969.

• CF- OTX Lease Agreement; Bradley Air Services Ltd., to Austin Airways Ltd.,Timmins, ON, 29-Nov-1969 covering Dec-1969 until break-up 1970.

• CF- OTX Lease Agreement; Bradley Air Services Ltd., to Laurentian Air Services Ltd., based at Schefferville, QC, 27-Apr-1971 covering 01-Jun-1971 for four months.

21-May-1971 application for Certificate of Registration by Laurentian Air Services Ltd.

• CF- OTX Laurentian Air Services Ltd., based at Schefferville, QC. Operated on lease from 27-Apr-1974.

Accident: Thirty miles NE of Lac Nichiquan, QC. 24-Sep-1974. The Otter was on a ferry flight from Frobisher Bay, NT., back to Ottawa, ON. It suffered engine failure in the cruise and made a forced landing on rough terrain. It was badly damaged and would never fly again but see below.

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

18-Sep-1963 - 500 hours

13-Sep-1964 - 976 hours

15-Dec-1965 - 1,560 hours

18-Nov-1966 - 2,015 hours

16-Nov-1967 - 2,403 hours

11-May-1968 - 3,188 hours

01-Dec-1969 - 3,575 hours

12-Apr-1971 - 4,730 hours

10-May-1972 - 5,260 hours

26-Feb-1973 - 5,996 hours

14-Feb-1974 - 6,782 hours

Note: Department of Transport subsequently approved salvaged parts from CF-OTX, which was of course was owned by Bradley, could be used with crashed fuselage c/n 113 (ex USAF, with 6,005 hours, and acquired from Crown Assets by Bradley’) to produce a new identity, which became C-GPHD.

• CF-OTX Cancelled from Canadian Civil Aircraft Register 29-Sep-1978.

 • Written off with parts to C-GHPD •

Otter 432 was delivered on 9 October 1962 to Demerara Bauxite Company Ltd,, registered CF-OTX. The Demerara Bauxite Company, known as ‘Demba’ was a subsidiary of the Aluminium Company of Canada (ALCAN) and was engaged in the mining of bauxite in British Guiana, then a British colony, but later to gain independence as Guyana. The company base was at Mackenzie, a bauxite mining town in the jungle, 75 miles up the Demerara River from the capital Georgetown, which was on the Atlantic coast. There were no roads and transport for company personnel was by very slow river steamer from Georgetown to Mackenzie, a journey which took ten hours. The steamers were also used to ship the bauxite out as a raw ore for onward transport to plants in Canada and the United States for processing.

To improve the transport situation, the company ordered the Otter, an amphibian, at a cost of $210,000. It was painted with a blue cheatline and tail and white roof. The company logo was on the fuselage side in a break in the cheatline. A Canadian pilot, Tom Wilson, was hired to fly the Otter and he would be its pilot throughout its time with the company. As Otter 432 moved along the production line at Downsview, Tom Wilson took the DHC maintenance course, so that he could also act as the aircraft’s engineer. The Otter was handed over at Downsview on 9 October 1962, and a number of checkout and training flights were undertaken that day and the following two days.

The lengthy delivery flight commenced on 13 October 1962 when CF-OTX departed from Downsview for Malton, to clear customs, and then onwards to Buffalo, New York and Roanoke, Virginia for an overnight. Departing from Roanoke the following morning, the Otter had to return due to adverse weather, but made a successful departure later in the day to Florence, South Carolina and then onwards to Charleston for an overnight. The 15th October saw a departure to Fort Lauderdale, Florida where customs were cleared and out over the ocean to Nassau in the Bahamas for an overnight. The next day saw OTX continuing on to Inagua in the Bahamas and then to San Juan, Puerto Rico for another overnight. 17 October saw the delivery flight proceeding onwards to Antigua and then to Piarco in Trinidad for the next overnight. From there on the 18th the Otter flew to Atkinson Field, the airport at Georgetown, later that day arriving at its new base at Mackenzie, British Guiana. Total flying time for the marathon delivery flight had been just over 33 hours.

OTX then entered service, flying company personnel between Mackenzie and Georgetown. Monday to Friday it left Mackenzie at 7am and returned 8am from Georgetown. There was also an afternoon service leaving Mackenzie at 4pm and returning out of Georgetown at 5pm. Average flight time was 35 minutes, or 20 minutes to the Atkinson Field airport at Georgetown if passengers were connecting with international flights. This service replaced the ten hour steamer trip and was a huge improvement. As well as these “scheduled services”, from time to time company executives would fly in from Canada and they would be flown to Mackenzie.

The Otter was to be the only aircraft operated by the Demerara Bauxite Company and it soon became known as the ‘Demba Otter’. A hangar was built for it at the Mackenzie airstrip. During its first six weeks in service it logged 6,600 miles and was proving invaluable. As well as the regular services, another function of the Otter was to supply and maintain contact with nine river-gauging stations, on the Mazaruni, Cuyuni, Essequibo and Demerara rivers, where Demba was measuring the stream flow and gathering other data for the government and for its own use. The Otter would fly to these stations once a month to pick up the recorded data.

Another task given to the otter was to fly government delegations and visiting dignitaries to villages throughout the country, although the famous Kaieteur Falls was a common destination. With these various taskings, the Otter was to be seen throughout Guiana. The Otter also proved its worth during a twelve week general strike which started in April 1963 and all but closed down the country. During the strike period, Tom Wilson in the Otter logged 191 hours of flying time, making a total of 30 round trips between Mackenzie and Surinam, the nearest open airport, carrying mail and passengers and returning with mail and passengers and urgent freight, providing a reliable link between Mackenzie and the outside world during the strike.

Operation of the Otter on these tasks continued over the years that followed. In September 1965 the Otter returned to Malton for an engine change and C of A renewal. By putting three 45 gallon drums in the cabin, feeding into the main tank on demand, it doubled the range to 12 hours. Routing was:

25.09.65      Atkinson – San Juan   8 hours 50 minutes

26.09.65      San Juan – Fort Lauderdale    8 hours 20 minutes

27.09.65       Fort Lauderdale-Buffalo, New York   10 hours 55 minutes

28.09.65       Buffalo – Malton                     Forty minutes

16.12.65       Malton – Lynchburg, Virginia   5 hours 10 minutes

17.12.65       Lynchburg – Fort Lauderdale     7 hours 20 minutes

18.12.65       Fort Lauderdale-San Juan-Atkinson      10 hours 45 minutes

By December 1965, at the time of the C of A renewal, the Otter had 1,560 hours on the airframe. On one occasion, on a day of local festivity, British Army parachutists were dropped from the Otter over Mackenzie. In 1966 a Cessna 180 of Mission Aviation Fellowship flipped over landing at Paramakatoi and damaged the wings. New wings were ordered from Cessna and sent to Kamarang by Guyana Airways DC-3. Demba loaned the Otter for the day to fly the wings (attached externally to the floats on the Otter) from Kamarang to Paramakatoi. In May 1968 an arrangement was agreed with Terra Surveys Ltd.,for use of the Otter on a geological survey of Guyana, which took place between September and December 1968. Demba continued to have first call on the Otter as they needed it and their pilot Tom Wilson continued to fly the Otter, but it was used during these months to support the survey on the Oronque River, flying in personnel and supplies, including avgas, for the Bell 47 helicopter engaged on the survey.

The need for the Otter in Guyana was however coming to an end, with the completion during 1968 of a roadway linking Georgetown with Mackenzie. The Otter made its last flight on this route on 19 December 1968 and had already been put up for sale. It was bought by Bradley Air Services Ltd., and collected at Mackenzie in January 1969 by Bradley pilot Lloyd Moffet and flown north to the Bradley base at Carp, Ontario. It had at that stage of its existence 3,189 hours on the airframe.

OTX was overhauled at Carp and was registered to Bradley Air Services on 12 May 1969 and entered service as part of the Bradley fleet of Otters. In between service with Bradley it was leased out to other operators from time to time. In December 1969 it was leased to Austin Airways, based at Timmins, Ontario for a few months. In April 1971 it was leased to Laurentian Air Services, based at Schefferville, Québec for a few months before returning to service with Bradley Air Services, where it was used to support exploration in the High Arctic. It continued in use with them until an accident on 24 September 1974.

On that day the Otter was on a ferry flight from Frobisher Bay in the Northwest Territories back to Ottawa.  In the cruise, the engine failed due to a cracked cylinder head casting around an exhaust rocker pin hole and it made a forced landing 30 miles north-east of Lac Nichiquan in the remote Gagnon region of Québec. It was badly damaged in the forced landing on rough terrain, and would never fly again. Its total time at the date of the accident had risen to 6,780 hours.

After lying out in the bush at the accident site for some time, OTX was retrieved and brought back to the Bradley maintenance base at Carp, near Ottawa. Also at Carp was a damaged Otter, serial 113, tail number 53267, which Bradley had purchased from the USAF after it had crashed at Goose Bay in May 1974. Bradley rebuilt 113, using the salvageable parts from OTX. The work was completed in August 1976 and Otter 113 was then registered to Bradley Air Services as C-GPHD.  The registration of CF-OTX was then formally cancelled.

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.