3683 • CF-MPU • 3683 • C-GOFC • N44NB • C-FYCX • N10704
• 3683 Royal Canadian Air Force. Delivered 20-Sep-1954. Its first tasking being with the Central Experimental & Proving Establishment (CEPE) Air Armament Evaluation Detachment, based at Cold Lake, AB.
Accident: Cold Lake AB 23-Nov-1955. The pilot landed on the frozen lake and while he was taxying the aircraft broke through the ice. The pilot had accepted information on the ice thickness from an inexperienced observer, and had underestimated the weight of the aircraft. The ice was only five inches thick and could not support the aircraft’s weight. The aircraft was recovered and spent a year recuperating at the Repair Depot at Lincoln Park, Calgary, ON, before rejoining the Cold Lake Station Flight in Nov-1956.
CF-MPU Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Nov-1958 On loan from RCAF to bridge the gap until they received one of the Otters they had ordered from DHC. Based at Frobisher Bay in the Northwest Territories, operated by the RCMP but also used by the Department of Northern Affairs. returned to the RCAF Jul-1959.
• 3683 Royal Canadian Air Force. Returned Jul-1959.
Note: Transferred to AMDU, Saskatoon, SK and was handed over to the Crown Assets Disposal Corporation for disposal.
30-Mar-1977 Crown Assets Disposal Corporation, acceptance of offer, Otters 3677 (35), 3681 (39), 3683 (44) 3691 (58), 3694 (61), 3698 (65) & 3745 (188) by Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Toronto, as-is, where-is, Saskatoon SK, $280,000.
• C-GOFC Province of Ontario, Ministry of Natural Resources, Sault Ste.Marie, ON. Regd Apr 1978 after a complete refurbishment.
• N44NB Jim K. Harrower, dba 'Northward Bound', Anchorage, AK. Regd Jun-1986, being subsequently registered to Northward Bound Inc.
• N44NB Robert J.Wesley, dba 'Nordic Flying Services' Birchwood Airport, Chugiak, AK. Dec-1994.
Accident: Selawik, AK 28-Mar-1995. The purpose of the flight on that day was to transport four barrels of fuel to a remote field site. During the initial take-off from the Selawik River, the aircraft which was on wheel-skis struck a ten foot snowbank, severing the right main landing gear. The aircraft came to rest with the right gear collapsed, and the right wing resting on the frozen, snow-covered river. The take-off area was smooth crusted snow over ice, two thousand feet in length. The accident report concluded that the pilot had attempted to take off with insufficient distance to clear obstacles. The Otter was repaired on site.
Note: The aircraft was delivered by Mr Wesley to Oshkosh, WI., in August 1995, where a company associated with Wilderness North Air was based.
• N44NB Aircraft Investments LLC, Oshkosh, WI., to whom the Otter Regd Jan-1996.
• C-FYCX Leased to Wilderness North Air Ltd. Armstrong, ON. Based Waweig Lake, ON. However address on CCAR shown as Oshkosh WI. Regd 23May-1996 & 07-Aug-2001.
Canadian Cert of airworthiness: 17-May-1996.
Total time: 9,579 hours.
• C-FYCX Sold to 3006298 Nova Scotia Company 14 April 1997. Lease continued to Wilderness North Air Ltd., Armstrong, ON.
Power plant: Over the winter of 1997 / 1998 aircraft was converted to a Vazar turbine by Recon Air,
Total time: 10,325 at May-2000 and 10,430 by Nov-2001.
• C-FYCX Canx 17-Jan-2002.
N10704 Northern Aircraft Leasing Inc., Oshkosh, WI. 17-Jan-2002.
N10704 Leased to Alaska Air Taxi LLC., Anchorage, AK. Based Lake Hood, Anchorage, AK.
Total time: 10,736 hours at May-2003..
Note:, Advertised for sale May-2003 on EDO 7170 floats, Part 135 certified, with an asking price of US$960,000 including wheels, skis and floats, but remained unsold..
N10704 transferred to its wholly-owned subsidiary 3006298 Nova Scotia Company for the purposes of registering the Otter in Canada.
C-FYCX Leased to 1401380 Ontario Ltd., trading as Waweig Air Armstrong, ON. Regd 23-May-2003. This company associated with Wilderness North Air Ltd., Armstrong, ON.
C-FYCX 1401380. Ontario Ltd. ,(Wilderness North Air Ltd). Armstrong, ON. Regd 04-Jun-2003 & 05-Jun-2003. Canx 07-May2004 and 07-May-2005. Regd 18-Apr-2006, 28-Sep-2006 & 24-Nov-2006 at Thunder Bay, ON.Canx 08-May-2010. Regd 18-Aug-2010.
• Current •
Otter number 44 was delivered to the RCAF on 20 September 1954 with serial 3683, its first tasking being with the Central Experimental & Proving Establishment (CEPE), Air Armament Evaluation Detachment at Cold Lake, Alberta, passing on two months later, in November 1954, to the Station Flight at RCAF Base Cold Lake. It was joined in February 1955 by 3698 (65) and together these two Otters served the Station Flight at Cold Lake until May 1957, when they were replaced by another two Otters (3685 and 3661). Otters continued to serve the Station Flight at Cold Lake until October 1962.
Located in remote northern Alberta, and now famous as the location of the ‘Maple Flag’ exercises, Cold Lake always was, since it opened in March 1954, and important RCAF base due to the presence of the Primrose Lake Testing Range, a vast air-to-air and air-to-ground range which straddled the Alberta/Saskatchewan border to the northeast of the base, covering some eight thousand square miles. During the 1950s/60s the Range was run by the CEPE and was used by the RCAF’s CF-100 and later CF-104 Starfighters for air-to-air combat exercises and as a calibrated range for dropping ordnance. Hundreds of simulated ground targets littered the Range, providing a “target rich” environment for the fighters.
The Otters were used (until ultimately replaced by helicopters) as Range Support aircraft, transporting personnel, food, supplies, equipment, electronic gear in and out of the Range. There was a base camp at one end of Primrose Lake, with a target drone launching area, to which the Otters flew as well as to wherever else on the Range that transport as required. One mishap is recorded with 3683 during its time at Cold Lake, on 23 November 1955, when the pilot landed on the frozen Cold Lake and while he was taxying the Otter broke through the ice. The pilot had accepted information on the ice thickness from an inexperienced observer and had under-estimated the weight of the aircraft. The ice was only five inches thick, and could not support the Otter’s weight.
3683 was fished out of the lake and spent some months recuperating at the Repair Depot at Lincoln Park, Calgary before re-joining the Cold Lake Station Flight in November 1956 where it continued to serve until May 1957, when it went to DHC at Downsview for incorporation of AUW modifications and then in September ’57 it went into storage with No.6 Repair Depot at Dunville. It remained in storage (apart from a trip by road to Québec in July 1958 for a recruiting campaign) until November ’58 when it went on loan to the RCMP, to bridge a gap until they received one of the Otters they had ordered from DHC.
With the RCMP Air Division the Otter was registered CF-MPU and was based at Frobisher Bay in the Northwest Territories, operated by the RCMP but also used by the Department of Northern Affairs as well as on police business. It was used to make patrols throughout Baffin Island and adjoining areas, transport officers between posts and responding to complaints from distant posts. In July 1959 the Otter was returned to the RCAF when CF-MPY (324) was delivered to the RCMP and took over from ‘MPU at Frobisher. 3683 went back into storage with 6RD Trenton until issued to the CEPE at Uplands, Ottawa in December 1960 and then to the Piston Training Flight at Rockcliffe in February 1961. It went to DHC for work in February 1962 and then back into storage with 6RD Dunville. In September 1964 it was transferred to storage at Saskatoon, Sask before being issued to 402 Squadron, Winnipeg which it joined on 17 January 1966 (replacing Otter 9415 with the Squadron).
3683 served with 402 Squadron, Winnipeg for seven years until transferred in May 1973 to 401 Squadron, St.Hubert, Québec. Its military career came to an end in November 1975 when it flew to the AMDU at Saskatoon and was handed over to the Crown Assets Disposal Corporation for disposal. It had flown 5,707 hours in military service. It was to remain in government service however as after two years in storage it was one of seven Otters at Saskatoon allocated to the Province of Ontario, Ministry of Natural Resources, being transferred by Bill of Sale dated 30 March 1977 to the Ministry. After a complete refurbish at the Ministry’s base at Sault Ste.Marie, Ontario it was registered to the Ministry as C-GOFC in April 1978, painted into their yellow overall colour scheme with black trim, and given tail number 71.
For the next nine years OFC served the Province of Ontario as one of its large fleet of Otters, providing the full range of bush services. It did so without incident of any sort. During the mid 1980s the Province started disposing of its Otter fleet and OFC was sold to Jim K.Harrower (a part time dentist) and Delores Harrower, trading as “Northward Bound”, to whom it was registered N44NB in June 1986 and moved to its new base in Anchorage, Alaska. The Otter was subsequently re-registered to Northward Bound Inc. It retained its yellow and black colour scheme, with Northward Bound fuselage titles. It was first used to fly supplies from Anchorage to Stoney River, Alaska where Mr Harrower was building a lodge. It was then based at Anchorage, among the many general aviation aircraft beside Lake Hood, but operating on wheels from the gravel strip beside the lake, or else from the runways at the international airport. It was invariably to be seen parked beside Northward Bound’s corporate headquarters, a wooden hut beside Lake Hood, near to where Rusts and Ketchums kept their Otters, so it was in good company. N44NB was used by Mr Harrower to fly hunting and fishing guests to his lodge and also for general charter work.
In December 1994 the Otter was sold to Robert J. Wesley, trading as “Nordic Flying Services” and moved to Birchwood Airport, Chugiak, Alaska some thirty miles north of Anchorage. He operated it in the winter and spring of 1994/5 but had a mishap at Selawik, Alaska on 28 March 1995. The purpose of the flight that day was to transport four barrels of fuel to a remote field site. During the initial take-off run from the frozen Selawik River, the Otter on wheel-skis struck a ten foot snowbank, severing the right main landing gear. The Otter came to rest with the right gear collapsed and the right wing resting on the frozen, snow-covered river. The take-off area was smooth crusted snow over ice, two thousand feet in length. The accident report concluded that the pilot attempted to take off with insufficient distance to clear obstacles. The Otter was repaired on site.
Otter N44NB was sold later that year and delivered by Robert Wesley in August 1995 to Oshkosh, Wisconsin. The buyer was Aircraft Investments LLC., of Oshkosh, to whom the Otter was registered as N44NB in January 1996. The Otter was leased by its new owners to Wilderness North Air of Armstrong-Waweig Lake, Ontario. This was a company formed by John J. (Jack) Mark, who came to Canada from Oshkosh and developed a passion for the Ontario wilderness. As well as Wilderness North Air, he also formed Waweig Air. A United States Certificate of Airworthiness for Export was issued on 8 May 1996 and the Otter registered to Wilderness North Air as C-FYCX. It was painted orange overall with a white cheatline and on 17 May 1996 was ferried from Oshkosh to Thunder Bay, Ontario and onwards to Armstrong on 28 May. It then went to Geraldton, Ontario for inspection by Recon Air and received its Canadian C of A on 28 June 1996. At that stage of its career it had 9,579 hours on the airframe. It then entered service with Wilderness North Air, flying out of Armstrong-Waweig Lake on floats for the remainder of summer 1996, and was then put into storage for the winter with Recon Air at Geraldton. Wilderness North Air also flew Otters C-FQND (233) and C-GMLB (359).
There was a change of owner the following year when by Bill of Sale dated 14 April 1997 Aircraft Investments LLC., sold the Otter to 3006298 Nova Scotia Company, but the lease of the aircraft to Wilderness North Air continued. It again flew for the company during summer 1997, flying fishermen and tourists into the bush. Over the winter of 1997/98 C-FYCX was converted to a Vazar turbine by Recon Air, and continued flying for Wilderness North Air. By May 2000 its total time had increased to 10,325 hours and to 10,430 hours by November 2001. The following month there was another change of owner when by Bill of Sale 7 December 2001 3006298 Nova Scotia Company transferred title of the Otter to Northern Aircraft Leasing Ltd., of Oshkosh, Wisconsin. The Otter was registered to Northern Aircraft Leasing Inc on 17 January 2002 as N10704, as was turbine Otter C-GMLB( 359) which was registered N10708, and both of these Otters then went on lease to Alaska.
The lessee was Alaska Air Taxi LLC., of Anchorage. They picked up both Otters at Geraldton, Ontario, where they had been prepared for the lease, and flew first to Thunder Bay, Ontario where some work was performed on the radios. The two turbine Otters then flew on together through Saskatchewan to Grand Prairie, Alberta where they were weathered in for five days and then onwards via Watson Lake and Whitehorse to Anchorage. Both Otters were in service during the summer of 2002 flying from Lake Hood, Anchorage on floats. They were still in Wilderness North Air colour scheme but with Alaska Air Taxi titles. They were used to service fishing and hunting lodges and to fly tourists and were put into storage at Anchorage for the winter of 2002/03 and were put up for sale by their owners in May 2003. N10704 was advertised as having 10,736 hours total time, on EDO 7170 floats, Part 135 certified, with an asking price of $960,000 including wheels, skis and floats.
A sale did not materialise and the Otter was flown back from Alaska to Canada. On 1 May 2003 the owner of the Otter, Northern Aircraft Leasing Inc., authorised the transfer of N10704 to its wholly-owned subsidiary 3006298 Nova Scotia Company for the purposes of registering the Otter in Canada. On the same day the Otter was leased to 1401380 Ontario Ltd., trading as Waweig Air, a company associated with Wilderness North Air and on 22 May 2003 was returned to the Canadian Register as C-FYCX. On 20 June 2003 it received its Canadian Certificate of Airworthiness and re-joined turbine Otters C-FQND (233) and C-GMLB (which had also returned from Alaska) in service with Waweig Air / Wilderness North Air.
Wilderness North Air is one of Canada’s top providers of fly-in fishing vacations, with 16 outpost camps and 5 lodges within the Ogoki and Albany River watersheds in Northwest Ontario. As well as the three turbine Otters, it also operated a number of Beavers and used its “de Havilland Air Force” to move its customers to and from the lodges and out to the camps. It also had three AT-802 Air Tractors modified to carry fuel to the lodges, and to customers throughout northern Ontario. Ten years later YCX was still flying for Waweig Air/Wilderness North Air. An incident was reported on CADORS for 13 September 2013 involving the Otter and a Bearskin Lake Air Metroliner C-FAMC. The Metroliner, on flight "BLS 362" from Sioux Lookout was inbound for a landing at the Thunder Bay Airport. The Otter had just landed at the airport on a flight from Kakabeka Falls. The Otter was slower than anticipated in exiting runway 25 so the Metroliner had to do a go-around, and after a left hand visual circuit landed some minutes later.
As of summer 2016 Otter C-FYCX was still in service with Waweig Air / Wilderness North Air.
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.