DHC-3 Otter Archive Master Index

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c/n 452

CF-DIO at Shannon - EINN, Eire.
Photo:Unknown photographer © 17 September 1972 - Karl E. Hayes Collection
CF-DIO at Chibougamau - CYMT, Québec.
Photo: M.M. © June 1979 - Karl E. Hayes Collection
CF-DIO missing prop.
Photo: John Kimberley © July 1982 - Karl E. Hayes Collection
C-FDIO in Waasheshkun Airways colours.
Photo: Karl E. Hayes © May 2001

c/n 452

JW 9102 • CF-DIO



• JW 9102 Ordered new for Tanzania, with this serial number. On RCAF books for acceptance testing, training and delivery, at Camp Borden, ON with this serial number.  Delivered to Tanzania on 28 February 1966.

• JW 9102 Tanzanian Air Force / Jeshi La Wananchi La Tanzani: JWTZ. Delivered 25-Feb-1966. Based at Dar es Salaam.).

• CF-DIO Bannock Aerospace Ltd., Toronto. Purchased Apr-1972. (Note also quoted as sold 17-Sep-1972).

• CF-DIO Traders Group Ltd., Toronto, ON. Regd 07-Nov-1972.

• CF-DIO Leased to Komo Construction Inc., QC. Nov-1972.

Accident on the Eastmain River, QC on 25th January 1973. while on wheel-skis, described as “misjudged altitude; hard landing; substantial damage.

• CF-DIO Dolbeau Air Service Inc., Lac Cache, Chibougamau, QC. Circa late 1973 until an unknown date in 1975.

• CF-DIO Direquair Inc., Lac Cache, Chibougamau, QC. Regd on an unknown date in 1975.

• CF-DIO Air Mistassini Inc., Lac Cache, Chibougamau, QC. Change of name in from Direquair 1981. Canx 27-May-1982.

• CF-DIO Soc Tourisme Baie James, Montréal,.QC. Canx 24-Aug-1982.

• C-FDIO Paul Petwabano, Mistassini Lac, Baie du Poste. Regd 24-Aug-1984. Canx 07-Jun-1989.

• C-FDIO Waasheshkun Airways Ltd / Compagnie D'Aviation Waasheshkun Ltée., Mistassini Lake, Baie du Poste. Regd 11-Oct-1989, 01-Nov-1989 & 04-Feb-2003. Canx date currently unknown.

Power plant: Vazar turboprop conversion number 80, completed November 2006.

• C-FDIO Air Roberval Ltée / Air Roberval Ltd., Roberval, QC. Based Mistassini, QC. Regd 09-Jan-2009.

• C-FDIO Waasheshkun Airways Ltd / Compagnie D'Aviation Waasheshkun Ltée., Mistassini. Regd 17-Jul-2009. Canx 14-Feb-2013.

• C-FDIO Air Roberval Ltée / Air Roberval Ltd., Roberval, QC. Regd 15-Apr-2013. Canx 25-Jun-2014.

• C-FDIO Waasheshkun Airways Ltd / Compagnie D'Aviation Waasheshkun Ltée., Mistaissini. Regd 25-Jun-2014.


Otter 452 was one of eight Otters built by DHC on foot of an order from the United Nations (UN) given to DHC in December 1964. The Otters were intended for use by the UN in West Irian, a very under-developed part of Indonesia. The Otters were to have been used to develop air transportation in the region, so that UN officials could move around and assist with the development of the area. Otters 451 to 454 and 458 to 461 were the eight aircraft, procured at a cost of $1,060,000 and they had been completed at Downsview by March 1965.

However, following strong diplomatic representations from Britain, concerned that the Otters might end up used for other purposes, used by Indonesia in its confrontation with Malaysia, the Canadian External Affairs minister vetoed the sale, and the eight Otters were held in storage at Downsview. They were painted all grey, and carried the serial on the tail. Another use had to be found for these aircraft and an opportunity presented itself in April 1965, when the Canadian government was requested to provide assistance to Tanzania in establishing an Air Wing. In September 1965 the Canadian government announced its proposals for a five year programme costing nine million dollars. This included the eight Otters as well as four DHC-4 Caribous, with support equipment and spares. The Canadians would also assist with the training of 400 air and ground crew, 200 of which would be trained in Canada.

Of the eight Otters, three were to be retained in Canada for training purposes, and five delivered to Tanzania, including 452. It was painted into Tanzanian Air Force colours, allocated serial 9102 and formally handed over to the Tanzanian Air Force at Downsview on 25 February 1966. It was then loaded on board a Canadian Armed Forces C-130 Hercules and flown to Tanzania, where it was re-assembled and made ready for service. As well as the training of aircrew and technicians in Canada, the Canadian military were also to assist the Tanzanian Air Force in its home country. A Canadian Armed Forces Advisory and Training Team Tanzania (CAFATTT) was formed, comprising Canadian military personnel instructing on the Otter and Caribou aircraft and also performing some general transport flying of the aircraft in Tanzania. The Team remained in Tanzania for a year, until the Tanzanians could operate the aircraft themselves.

The five Otters delivered to Tanzania, all by the Hercules flights, were 9102 (452), 9103 (453), 9104 (454), 9106 (459) and 9107 (460) and they were based at Dar es Salaam, operating within the country in the transport role. These five continued in service until March 1972, when they were purchased by Bannock Aerospace Ltd., of Toronto with the intention of returning them to Canada for re-sale. The five Otters were flown from Dar es Salaam to Nairobi-Wilson Airfield in Kenya in April 1972 and during May they were prepared for the long ferry flight back to Canada. They were registered to Bannock Aerospace Ltd, 9102 (452) becoming CF-DIO. Ferry pilots were sent to Nairobi to fly them home. Four of the Otters passed through Shannon in Ireland on the delivery flight back to Canada, the fifth passing through Prestwick in Scotland. CF-DIO (452) came through Shannon on 17 September 1972, next stop Reykjavik, Iceland. It was still in full Tanzanian Air Force scheme but carrying registration CF-DIO.

Following arrival in Canada and overhaul, DIO was sold on 7 November 1972 to Traders Group Ltd., of Toronto and leased to Komo Construction Inc., of Québec City. It had an accident on the Eastmain River, Québec on 25 January 1973, while on wheel-skis. Just prior to rounding out for landing, the pilot experienced a descending wind, which caused the Otter to touch down hard on the ice. After repair the Otter was sold to Dolbeau Air Service Inc., of Chibougamau, Québec to whom it was registered on 19 February 1974, starting many years of service in the Québec bush country.

Dolbeau Air Service became Direquair Inc., also based at Lac Cache, Chibougamau to whom the Otter was registered on 17 February 1975 and with Direquair it flew alongside Otters C-FAPQ (201) and C-FQOS (398). There was another change of name to Air Mistassini Inc., to whom the Otter was registered on 16 April 1981, all the while still operating out of Lac Cache, Chibougamau. The following year Air Mistassini went bankrupt and for a time Otter DIO lay idle at Lac Cache, as did QOS. The registration to Air Mistassini was cancelled on 27 May 1982 and on 26 July 1982 C-FDIO was registered to Societe de Tourisme de la Baie James, for operation in the James Bay region that summer. Registration to this company was cancelled on 24 August 1982. The Otter was noted again in storage at Lac Cache during September 1982.

The Otter was idle until sold to Paul Petawabano on 24 August 1984. He was a Cree pilot who founded Waasheshkun Airways Ltd., based at Baie-du-Poste (Mistassini Lake) in remote northern Québec. DIO was repainted into a new colour scheme of yellow overall, red cheatline and rudder, with Waasheshkun Airways titles, as this company would operate the Otter, although it was registered to Paul Petawabano until 7 June 1989, at which stage it was registered to Waasheshkun Airways Ltd.

A 1992 article in Wings magazine profiled the company: “Waasheshkun Airways is one of three Cree-owned airlines serving northern Québec, but it is the only one which derives most of its revenues from traditional bush flying using float and wheel-ski equipped aircraft. Its main business is flying Cree trappers, fishermen and hunters into the bush. It’s a year-round charter business. It operates from a dock at Baie-du-Poste, an old trading post at the south end of Lac Mistassini, one of the larger lakes in Québec. The fleet consists of one Beaver C-GAXL and two Otters C-FDIO and C-FODT”.

“The air service was founded in 1980 by Cree pilot Paul Petawabano, but 90% of the airline was later acquired by the Mistassini Cree band. There are about 2,300 band members, most of whom live in the village of Mistassini adjacent to the old trading post. The community is 89 kilometres north of Chibougamau, where the airline’s floatplane competitor, Propair, has its base. The Cree territory in north-central Québec is very large. Some places trappers are flown to are 386 kilometres away from Mistassini. The territory extends north from Chibougamau as far as the Eastmain River and west almost to the highway leading north to Radisson. There are no roads in the region but there are plenty of lakes to alight on”.

“The airline started with one Otter (DIO) to accommodate natives who were travelling on the reserve lands. Then the Beaver was added and finally the second Otter (ODT). The Beaver flies about 400 to 500 hours a year and the two Otters fly a total of 2,000 hours annually. Aside from serving native hunters and trappers, the business base of the airline also includes supporting two fly-in fishing camps. It also supports mineral exploration, flying in diamond drills and transporting fuel, equipment, groceries and workers”. Otter ODT was sold shortly after that article was written, but DIO continued in service with Waasheshkun Airways.

Over the winter of 2006 / 2007 Otter DIO was converted to a Vazar turbine otter, the 80th such conversion. It continued in service with Waasheshkun Airways and was in fact its only aircraft at that stage, and continued to serve the bush country of northern Québec. It was registered to Air Roberval Ltée., on 9 January 2009 and went on lease to that company, operating from its base at Dolbeau-St.Felicien. It was used to support mineral exploration. It returned to Waasheshkun Airways on 17 July 2009. There was another lease to Air Roberval from 15 April 2013, again to assist with supporting mineral exploration in Québec, but when this business went into recession, the Otter was returned to Waasheshkun Airways on 25 June 2014. It was noted in January 2016 flying for Waasheshkun from the frozen Lake Mistassini, still in its overall yellow scheme with red trim and with Waasheshkun Airways titles.  It continued flying for this company during summer 2018, a remarkable 44 years serving the Québec bush country.

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.