DHC-3 Otter Archive Master Index

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c/n 438

CF-PEM with Thunderbird.
Photo: Robert S. Grant © September 1985 - Aird Archives
CF-PEM in brilliant form.
Photo: Anthony J. Hickey © May 2002 - Karl E. Hayes Collection
CF-PEM preparing for the 2018 season.
Photo: Turner Thomson © May 2018

c/n 438



• CF-PEM Hudson Bay Air Transport Ltd., Flin Flon, MB. Delivered 24-May -1963.

• CF-PEM Georg Maryk, Anne Maryk, Arthur Ganchow, dba Tall Timber Fly-In Service, Lac du Bonnet, AB. Regd 13-Apr-1983. Canx 09-Mar-1992.

• CF-PEM Tall Timber Aviation Ltd. Company renamed. Regd 09-Mar-1992.

• CF-PEM Thunderbird Aviation (590730 Alberta Ltd), Sherwood Park, AB. Regd 18-May-1994. Canx 25-Apr-2001. The aircraft flew / flies for Athabaska Fishing Lodges.

• CF-PEM Transwest Air Limited (Transwest Management Ltd), Prince Albert, SK. Regd 22-Aug-2017.


Otter 438 was delivered to Hudson Bay Air Transport Ltd  (HBAT) of Flin Flon, Manitoba on 24 May 1963 registered CF-PEM. It was flown from Downsview to Flin Flon the following day. Also delivered to the company the same day was Otter 439 CF-PEN. These two Otters were ordered as replacements for Otters CF-JOR (212) and CF-KTI (269) which had both been destroyed in a fire at the company’s hangar at Flin Flon on 4 April 1963. HBAT also operated Otter CF-MIQ (336), which had escaped the fire, so with the delivery of PEM and PEN the company’s fleet was restored to three Otters.

The HBAT Otters were used to support exploration camps in the bush. There were usually between eight and ten active camps within a 150 mile radius of Flin Flon. All had to be supplied with food and equipment, crews changed and the camps moved as required. The Otters also provided a year-round link to the hydro-electric plant at Island Falls, Saskatchewan on the Churchill River, 65 miles north-west of Flin Flon and also between Flin Flon and Snow Lake, Manitoba which was a mining complex 75 miles to the east.  There were also trips for the Otters further afield, to the Northwest Territories where the company was prospecting in the Keewatin district.

This use of the three Otters continued in the years that followed, until the need for bush aircraft diminished over time. In the 1970s forest industry logging roads sprang up around the North, opening up areas which were once only accessible by bush plane. This led to the first major cutback in HBAT’s operation in 1976. The three Otters remained in the fleet but with exploration activity at an all-time low due to the economic climate, the Otters were only used sparingly to service the company’s facility at Island Falls, for the odd trip to Snow Lake and to transport line cutters and stakers. As the years went by the operation became uneconomic and flying ceased in July 1983. The aircraft were sold and HBAT air operations closed down.

The registration of CF-PEM to HBAT was cancelled on 19 April 1983 and the Otter sold to Tall Timber Lodge Fly-In Service of Lac du Bonnet, Manitoba.  George Maryk and his wife Anne established the Tall Timber Lodge at Lac du Bonnet, some sixty miles north-east of Winnipeg, during the 1950s, which became very popular with Canadian and American fishermen. They were joined by a pilot friend, Art Ganchow, who persuaded them to also provide a fishing service to more remote lakes and thus was born Tall Timber Lodge Fly-In Service. Art Ganchow became the chief pilot. Outpost camps were established on lakes in wilderness areas to the north of Lac du Bonnet. Another lodge with its own outpost camps was established at Dogskin Lake, some ninety miles north of Lac du Bonnet.

The aircraft fleet expanded over the years and by the early 1980s included a Cessna 206, a Widgeon amphibian, and a Norseman, all on floats. There was also a Beech Queen Air which flew from a gravel strip at the Tall Timber Lodge. Otter CF-PEM joined the fleet in April 1983 when it was purchased from HBAT.  It was registered to George and Anne Maryk and Arthur Ganchow and was operated still in its HBAT colour scheme. In the years that followed the Queen Air, Widgeon and Norseman were disposed of and for the latter part of the 1980s the fleet comprised two Cessna 206s and Otter PEM. These were used to fly guests from Tall Timber Lodge to the outpost camps and also to the lodge at Dogskin Lake. The Otter was re-registered to Tall Timber Aviation Ltd., on 9 March 1992 and continued in service. However, when the Maryks sold the Dogskin Lake Lodge in 1994, there was no further need for the Otter, which was sold, and operations continued with just the two Cessna 206s, which were adequate to serve the outpost camps.

The buyer of the Otter was Thunderbird Aviation (590730 Alberta Ltd) to whom CF-PEM was registered on 18 May 1994. This is a division of Blackmur’s Athabasca Fishing Lodges, the company of Cliff and Stella Blackmur, which operated two fishing lodges and associated outpost camps, on Lake Athabasca in northern Saskatchewan. The Otter was painted in a striking all metal (highly polished) scheme with red cheatline and carried Athabasca Fishing Lodge titles. It was operated alongside a Cessna 206.  Cliff Blackmur himself often flew the Otter. During the summer season the Otter was based at Stony Rapids, Saskatchewan. Guests were flown in on Transwest Air and were then flown in the Otter from Stony Rapids to whichever of the two lodges they were staying at, and the Otter was also used to take guests to the outpost camps for fly-out fishing, this activity taking place during the summer season mid May to mid October. During the winter months, the Otter was housed in a hangar at the La Ronge Airport, where it was maintained.

Otter PEM was to fly for Athabasca Fishing Lodges for a remarkable 23 years without any incident. During this long period there was only one mention of the Otter on CADORS, on 1 July 2008. The Otter had departed Stony Rapids while a NOTAM was in effect restricting airspace within ten miles to fire suppression aircraft, as forest fire bombing was in operation. The Otter arrived back at Stony Rapids later that day while the restriction was still in force.

The Otter continued to fly for Athabasca Fishing Lodges until 22 August 2017 when it went on lease to Transwest Air, and was registered to Transwest Ltd., Partnership, acting by its General Partner, Transwest Management Ltd., of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan.  Otter PEM flew for Transwest Air out of La Ronge and Stony Rapids until mid October 2018, when the lease came to an end.  The Otter was returned to Athabasca Fishing Lodges and once again put into storage in the hangar at La Ronge for the winter of 2018 / 2019.

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.x