DHC-3 Otter Archive Master Index

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c/n 439

CF-PEN at Flin Flon, Manitoba.
Photo: Karl E. Hayes © September 1980
C-FPEN swings quietly on the buoy, at Ear Falls, Ontario.
Photo: Anthony J. Hickey © September 1991 - Karl E. Hayes Collection
C-FPEN awaiting "ice out".
Photo: Ruben Husberg © 17 April 1994 - Karl E. Hayes Collection
C-FPEN still swinging.
Photo: Neil Aird © 14 July 1995
C-FPEN at Sioux Lookout, Ontario.
Photo: Rich Hulina © May 1998 - Karl E. Hays Collection
C-FPEN of Fast Air, at Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Photo: Karl E. Hayes © May 2004

c/n 439

CF-PEN

C-FPEN

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

Note: Reportedly completed on 11-Apr-1962 but there seems to be some confusion regarding the actual years of manufacture for aircraft around this construction number.

 C-FPEN Lac Seul Airways Ltd., Ear Falls, ON

 C-FPEN Fast Air Ltd., Winnipeg, MB. Based Baker Lake, NV. Regd. 31-Mar-2004. Canx 16-Aug-2007.

Power plant: Converted to Texas Turbine Otter by Kal Air, Vernon, BC..

Note: Also had other modifications such as 'Yukon Door' modification and panoramic windows installed.

Total time: 10,689 hrs.

 C-FPEN North Star Air Ltd., Pickle Lake, ON. Regd 29-Aug-2007. Canx 16-Apr-2008.

 C-FPEN Central Flyway Air Inc., (Venture Air), Thompson, MB. Canx 19-Nov-2008.

 C-FPEN Oopik Aviation Inc., Baker Lake, NU. Regd 02-Apr-2009.

Current

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Otter 439 was delivered to Hudson Bay Air Transport Ltd (HBAT) of Flin Flon, Manitoba on 24 May 1963, registered CF-PEN. The manufacturer’s plate in the aircraft says that its manufacture was completed 11 April 1962, so it was evidently in storage for some time before it was delivered. It was flown from Downsview to Flin Flon on 25 May 1963. Also delivered to the company the same day was Otter 438 CF-PEM. 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 between Flin Flon and Snow Lake, Manitoba, a mining complex 75 miles to the east.

There were also trips for the Otters further afield, to the Northwest Territories. Pat Donaghy flew for HBAT and he recalls such a deployment in CF-PEN in August 1966. The company was prospecting in the district of Keewatin, in the area to the north of the Manitoba border up to Baker Lake. The crews were being supplied by Otters both from Flin Flon and from Baker Lake . On one occasion he was en route from Baker Lake in CF-PEN to Tulemalu Lake with supplies. An American registered Cessna 180 on floats (N5027F) was missing but he spotted the downed Cessna on Yathkyed Lake and landed to give assistance with engine repairs.

This use of the three HBAT 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 remaining aircraft were sold and HBAT air operations closed down.

CF-PEN had already been sold by then. Its registration to HBAT was cancelled on 2 June 1982 and it was sold to Lac Seul Airways Ltd., of Ear Falls, Ontario to whom it was registered C-FPEN on 21 January 1983. It replaced Otter C-FDDX (165) with Lac Seul and flew alongside the company’s other Otter CF-HXY (67). The Otters were used to fly tourists and guests to fishing lodges during the summer months and were painted in Lac Seul’s attractive red and white colour scheme. PEN was destined to fly for Lac Seul for the next twenty years. After the summer 2003 season, Lac Seul Airways decided to sell PEN and continue operations with HXY. The registration of PEN to Lac Seul was cancelled on 31 March 2004 and it was registered that day to Fast Air Inc., of Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Fast Air, from its Winnipeg base, operated a fleet of Piper Navajos, Beech King Air’s and a Westwind executive jet. The Otter had in fact been sold to Ookpik Aviation Inc of Baker Lake, Nunavut but as this company did not at the time have its own Aircraft Operator’s Certificate (AOC), it entered into a joint venture with Fast Air whereby the Otter would be placed on Fast Air’s AOC, and operated on behalf of Ookpik Aviation.  This company had been founded by Boris Kotelewetz after he arrived in Baker Lake in 1966, and started out as an aircraft expediting service working in partnership with several airlines to meet growing air charter needs in Canada’s central Arctic. Mr Kotelewetz also ran the Baker Lake Lodge, so could provide a comprehensive service to anyone using Baker Lake.

Otter CF-PEN had arrived at Vernon, BC in early February 2004, where it was to be converted to a Texas Turbine Otter by Kal Air, conversion # 12. It also had the ‘Yukon Door’ modification and panoramic windows installed, and was painted into a blue and white colour scheme. At that stage of its career it had 10,689 hours on the airframe. It was registered to Fast Air Inc., on 31 March 2004 for operation on behalf of Ookpik Aviation. It departed Vernon on 25 April 2004, to Lethbridge, Alberta and made it from there direct to Winnipeg. In the Fast Air hangar it had avionics fitted and an arctic owl emblem painted on the side. It was put on wheel-skis and on 12 May 2004 departed for the long haul north to Baker Lake, Nunavut, its new base.

The Otter would primarily be used in support of mineral exploration activity year round and some tourism during the summer months. Also based at Baker Lake and flying for Ookpik Aviation was Bell 206 helicopter C-FSMW.  PEN would be the only Otter in service in Canada’s Eastern Arctic. A number of incidents were recorded on CADORS in the years that followed:

17 August 2004.   Otter PEN landed at an exploration strip 140 miles southwest of Baker Lake. As the Otter was turning in the soft ground at the edge of the strip, a gust of wind lifted the tail. The propeller struck the ground and sustained damage. The engine and propeller were changed and the Otter returned to service.

5 October 2004. After reporting finals for runway 34 at Baker Lake, the pilot of PEN proceeded to land on the ramp instead of the runway. Another aircraft was unloading on the ramp at the time. The pilot said he landed on the ramp because it was too windy to land on the runway.

11 August 2005, at Kugaaruk (Pelly Bay). Three people walked across the runway to the terminal to board the Otter on the ramp for their return charter flight to Baker Lake. They were tourists from Minnesota and were afraid that they would miss their flight, so elected to cross the runway rather than walk around it.

11 April 2007.  The pilot of PEN landed on the ramp at Baker Lake, as opposed to runway 16/34 due to cross winds.

26 April 2007. Otter PEN inbound to Baker Lake. Pilot gave incorrect estimated time of arrival and failed to report five miles from the airport.

23 June 2007.  Vehicle on the runway at Baker Lake as Otter PEN made its approach.

In August 2007 there was a change to the operation when North Star Air Ltd., of Pickle Lake, Ontario took over from Fast Air as the operator of the Otter on behalf of Ookpik Aviation. The registration of C-FPEN to Fast Air was cancelled on 16 August 2007 and on 29 August it was registered to North Star Air Ltd. At that time, North Star Air flew turbine Otter C-GCQA (77) and it deployed north to Baker Lake to fly for Ookpik Aviation, alongside PEN. Both Otters moved fuel, food and personnel in and out of seven different exploration camps around Baker Lake. North Star Air were associated with Canoe Frontier Inc, an outfitting company catering for tourists in Nunavut, for which the Otters were also used. North Star Air continued to operate PEN on behalf of Ookpik Aviation until its registration of the Otter was cancelled on 16 April 2008, as another re-organisation took place, and Central Flyway Air Inc., took over, to whom Otter PEN was registered on 23 May 2008, again for operation on behalf of Ookpik Aviation.

Central Flyway Air Inc., of Thompson, Manitoba traded as Venture Air and were the operators of turbine Otter C-FRHW (445). Just as the transition from North Star Air to Venture Air was taking place, an incident occurred to Otter PEN, on 20 May 2008. The wheel-ski equipped PEN was landing with wheels on runway 34 at Baker Lake. The landing roll was normal but as the aircraft slowed it began pitching forward slowly. The pilot was unable to control the pitch with full aft elevator and increased engine power and the propeller struck the runway. Pilot and passengers were uninjured. The engine and propeller were removed for repair. Venture Air brought up their own Otter C-FRHW to Baker Lake to cover for PEN while it was out of action until repaired. Venture Air then operated PEN on behalf of Ookpik Aviation, occasionally bringing RHW back to Baker Lake as well whenever required. This arrangement continued until the registration of PEN to Venture Air was cancelled on 19 November 2008.

At that stage Ookpik Aviation were in the final stages of obtaining their own AOC, so that they would no longer have to rely on other airlines to operate the Otter on their behalf. At long last, C-FPEN was registered to Ookpik Aviation Inc., on 2 April 2009 and operated by Ookpik Aviation itself from then on, continuing to fly from Baker Lake as before. In the years that followed, more incidents were recorded on CADORS:

9 May 2009. After departure from Aberdeen Lake, the pilot felt flutter and turbulence through the rudder pedals and suspected that the tail ski had been damaged. On landing at Baker Lake, the tail ski rotated fully over and the rear ski section was driven into the bottom of the fuselage, puncturing the skin and coming to rest against the aft bulkhead. Due to the rear of the ski being impaled into the fuselage, the aircraft could not be manoeuvred on the ground. Using a portable saw the pilot cut the ski in half and the aircraft could then be taxied. It was repaired and returned to service.

21 March 2010. Otter PEN arrived at Angillak Lake, Nunavut and while preparing to unload a cargo of plywood the pilot released the herc strap and the load shifted, causing him to lose his footing and fall out of the cargo door of the aircraft. While he was falling his hand became trapped between the plywood and the port wall of the aircraft, seriously injuring his hand. The pilot was attended by the assistant loader and was able to fly the aircraft back to Baker Lake for emergency medical treatment.

18 August 2010.  Departing Baker Lake with two crew and two passengers, the Otter encountered wind shear and experienced a roll upset to the right. Immediate counter control inputs recovered the aircraft to normal. The rest of the flight was completed successfully. During the return flight the pilot noticed a right turning tendency and upon landing in Baker Lake maintenance found damage to the outboard right hand aileron from striking the gravel runway on take off. The Otter was grounded for repairs, which required replacement of the outboard aileron. Winds at the time of take off had been 26 knots, with gusts to 36 knots.

10 July 2011. The Otter was flying 63 miles south-west of Baker Lake when the pilot advised that he had a warning light for low fuel pressure and requested the company to be notified. Ten minutes later he advised that the warning light had extinguished. The Otter landed without incident.

During summer 2011 Ookpik Aviation had a contract to service an exploration camp at Amer Lake, flying from Baker Lake, on which Otter PEN was used. A look at the type of flights involved shows the work carried out by the Otter:- 7 June, three passengers, camp gear and groceries; 11 June drill gear and groceries; 13 June five flights between 11:30am and 11pm with drill and camp gear; 15 June drill gear, backhaul three passengers, luggage, camp tools and snow machine; 16 June four flights with drill gear; 18 June two flights with drill gear, backhaul skidoo; 21 June two flights, communications gear and supplies; 9 July drill rods, backhaul 22 buckets of samples and ten boxes of incinerator ash; 15 July groceries, backhaul samples, incinerator ash and a passenger; 1 August three flights with drill parts.

Further incidents from CADORS:

10 April 2012. The pilot of PEN elected to take off from the ramp at Baker Lake due to crosswinds.

16 April 2012.  C-GNCA a Cessna Caravan of Fugro Aviation was taxying for departure at Baker Lake when it blew a tire on the runway. It was disabled on the runway until towed off 35 minutes later. Approximately 2,500 feet of runway was available. Otter PEN was inbound and the pilot elected to land after being advised of the situation and the remaining runway.

In June 2013 turbine Otter C-GBQC (401) joined the Ookpik Aviation fleet, flying alongside PEN.

25 August 2013.  Otter PEN was an hour overdue into Baker Lake. The Rescue Co-Ordination Centre was advised. Canadian North flight MPE478 (a Boeing 737 from Yellowknife to Gjoa Haven) achieved radio contact with the Otter and provided a new estimate for PEN’s arrival.

9 June 2016.  Otter PEN informed the Baker Lake Community Aerodrome radio station shortly after take off of an onboard medical emergency involving a passenger. The Otter landed safely and the passenger was taken to the nursing station.

In October 2016 both Otters PEN and BQC were based at Arviat, flying in fuel drums and equipment.  As at summer 2018 both Otters continued in service with Ookpik Aviation.

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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