DHC-3 Otter Archive Master Index

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c/n 454

CF-DIY at Reykjavik, Iceland.
Photo: Unknown photographer © June 1972 - via G. J. Kamp - Karl E. Hayes Collection
CF-DIY safely at Toronto - CYYZ, Ontario.
Photo: Sheldon D. Benner © 06 June 1972 - Michael J. Ody Collection
CF-DIY of B.C. YUKON, at Vancouver - CYVR, British Columbia.
Photo: John Kimberley © December 1979 - Karl E. Hayes
N28TH at Ketchikan, Alaska.
Photo: Markus Herzig © Date unknown - Karl E. Hayes Collection
N339AK in early Wings livery.
Photo: Fred Barnes © 07 July 2002 - Karl E. Hayes Collection
N339AK plying her trade at Juneau, Alaska.
Photo: Helge Nyhus © September 2006 - Karl E. Hayes Collection

c/n 454

JW 9104  CF-DIY  C-FDIY  N28TH

N339AK

x

• JW  9104 Ordered new for Tanzania, with this serial number. Delivered 12-Apr-1966.  On RCAF books for acceptance testing, training and delivery, at Camp Borden, ON., with this serial number.

• JW 9104 Tanzanian Air Force. Not delivered to Tanzania until May 1967 but initially used as above. Based at Dar es Salaam. Sold Jun-1972.

• CF-DIY Bannock Aerospace Ltd.,Toronto, ON. Purchased Apr-1972.

• CF-DIY B.C. Yukon Air Service Ltd., Watson Lake, YT / Dease Lake, BC. Regd 08-Jul-1972. & 20-Mar-1985. Canx 08-Feb-1989.

N28TH Temsco Helicopters Inc., Ketchikan, AK. Regd Apr-1989. Terminated services 01-Nov-1991.

Airworthiness date: 26-Apr-1989

N28TH Alaska Juneau Aeronautics Inc., trading as “Wings of Alaska”, Juneau, AK. Regd March 1993.

N339AK Alaska Juneau Aeronautics Inc., trading as “Wings of Alaska”, Juneau, AK. Re-registered Jan-1999.

N339AK Wings Airlines Services Inc., Juneau, AK. Re-named 28-Aug-1999. but continued flying as part of the Wings of Alaska fleet.

N339AK Alaska Coastal Airlines Inc., Juneau, AK. Regd Apr-2002, but continued flying as part of the Wings of Alaska fleet.

Power plant: Converted to Texas Turbine Otter (conversion # 15) by Kal Air at Vernon, BC, from October 2004.

N339AK I P A Leasing Inc., Juneau, AK Regd 27-Oct-2008.

N339AK Leased as Wings Airways Ltd., Juneau, AK. 01-Nov-2008.

N339AK I P A Leasing Inc., Juneau, AK. Regd 23-Jan-2012.

Current

Otter 454 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, with the serial on the tail but no other marks. 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 8 Otters as well as 4 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 these 8 Otters, three were to be retained in Canada for training purposes and five delivered to Tanzania, including 454. It was painted  into Tanzanian Air Force colours, allocated serial 9104 and formally handed over to the Tanzanian Air Force at Downsview on 12 April 1966. It remained in Canada under the care of the RCAF until May 1967 when it was flown to Tanzania on board an RCAF C-130 Hercules, 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 CAF personnel instructing on the Otter and Caribou aircraft and also performing some general 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 RCAF 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 Otters 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., 454 being registered CF-DIY. Ferry pilots were sent to Nairobi to fly them home. Four of these Otters passed through Shannon in Ireland on the delivery flight back to Canada and one passed through Prestwick in Scotland.

CF-DIY was the Otter to route through Prestwick and its full ferry flight routing was Nairobi Wilson-Cairo-Heraklion-Rome-Ashford in Kent-Fairoaks (where it arrived 31 May 1972 and had a battery problem rectified by Mann Aviation)-Prestwick (3 June 1972)-Reykjavik-Narssarssuaq-Gander-Toronto. It was still in Tanzanian Air Force colours but with the registration CF-DIY and was flown to Canada on a ferry permit. It was formally registered to Bannock Aerospace Ltd., after arrival on 18 July 1972. After overhaul the Otter was sold to B.C.Yukon Air Service Ltd., of Watson Lake, Yukon on 28 July 1972. It then set off on its 2,400 mile delivery flight from Toronto to Watson Lake.

CF-DIY was acquired by B.C.Yukon A/S to replace its first Otter CF-XUX which had crashed on 16 July 1972. Although the company would operate a total of five Otters over the years, DIY would be its longest serving Otter, in service for seventeen years. It was painted into the company colours of an orange/red upper fuselage, brown lower fuselage with a black cheatline outlined in white. Watson Lake airfield had been built during the second World War as an important staging point on the aircraft ferry route to Alaska. The company took over the large wartime era hangar, and its area of operation covered northern BC and the southern Yukon.

B.C.Yukon A/S carried out much work for mining companies and government departments. Each spring there was a flurry of activity as supplies and fuel caches were positioned by the Otters for use later in the year. Full 205 litre barrels of fuel were flown in the Otter, six at a time and unloaded onto snow covered lakes and collected together into caches. A photograph shows DIY having landed on the frozen Nahanni River in the Headless Valley. The Parks Branch flew fuel for their boats into the Nahanni south of Virginia Falls and then replenished their cabins north of the Falls near Rabbit Kettle Hotsprings with the supplies for the summer season.

Summer was the busiest season, with much flying in support of mining exploration ventures, establishing camps and camp moves. Once a landing area for a new site was found, materials were trucked to an easy to access staging area, an example being at Muncho Lake on the Alaska Highway. Fuel drums were then flown from there to the camp at Driftpile Creek. The Otters carried their payloads from the makeshift airstrip to the camp site, flying in many tons of supplies – lumber and plywood, diesel fuel, diamond drills, propane gas, jet fuel for helicopters, groceries etc. As the Driftpile project went on for years, an airstrip was built at the camp. For less permanent camps, the Otter flew into the nearest lake. The ability of the Otter to carry full sheets of 4’ x 8’ plywood and other bulky items was invaluable, as was its ability to operate off airport, into the nearest lake or meadow.

The Otters, including DIY, also supported hunters, fishermen and tourists. Dease Lake was a popular launching spot for wilderness enthusiasts looking for adventure. The Otter could fly their canoe attached to its floats as an external load. Happy, Tuatom and Laslui Lakes were located near the headwaters of the Stikine River and acted as the main drop off spots. The Cirque of the Unclimables  and Mount Harrison rose from the shores of Glacier Lake near the Nahanni National Park, to where the Otters would fly in climbers and their gear. Fall was the hunting season, another busy time for the Otters.

As winter approached and the lakes froze over, the Otters were put on wheel-skis. They could continue to fly even with temperatures down to -35C. Another photograph shows DIY about to touch down at Boulder City on the Turnagain River, a thirty minute flight east of Dease Lake, with supplies for the gold mine camp’s winter caretaker. Regular Otter flights brought in groceries and mail. Boulder City was also served during the summer, flying out jade boulders which had been mined there for further processing.

DIY suffered one incident, in summer 1980, during its service with B.C.Yukon A/S. It “blew a jug” (cylinder) but the pilot skilfully guided the Otter to a safe landing on the Flat River, near the Nahanni National Park, Northwest Territories. There was no damage at all, not even a scratch to the floats. The water levels in the river however proved too shallow for a safe post-repair take off, so the engine was taken off, the seats and floorboards removed to lighten the load, and the Otter was airlifted by a Bell 205 helicopter, a twenty minute flight to a deep water lake. Here a new engine was fitted and DIY returned to service. It continued flying for B.C.Yukon A/S until 1988, at which stage it was the company’s last Otter, flying alongside a Beaver and a Cessna 206. The company was down-sizing and the registration of the Otter to the company was cancelled on 8 February 1989 and it was put up for sale.

The buyer of the Otter, in April 1989, was Temsco Helicopters Inc., of Ketchikan, Alaska to whom the Otter was registered as N28TH. It had a large fleet of Otters, operated under the trading name of Temsco Airlines, used on scheduled services to the communities in the Alaskan panhandle and on charters, including sight-seeing flights for the cruise ship passengers who came to Ketchikan each summer.  For summer 1989 N28TH flew in its B.C.Yukon colour scheme but it was then re-painted red overall with a yellow cheatline. N28TH continued flying as part of Temsco’s fleet of Otters until October 1991, when Temsco announced abruptly that its final services would take place on 1 November 1991 and that the company’s fixed-wing division would close down on that date.

After a period lying idle at Ketchikan, the Otter was sold in March 1993 to Alaska Juneau Aeronautics Inc., trading as “Wings of Alaska” and made the short move north from Ketchikan to Juneau. It then flew as part of the Wings of Alaska fleet, on its scheduled services and particularly on its summertime charters out of Juneau for cruise ship passengers. It was re-painted into the company’s colour scheme of two shades of blue. For nearly six years it retained the registration N28TH but in January 1999 it was re-registered N339AK in the Wings of Alaska sequence. In April 2002 it was registered to Alaska Coastal Airlines Inc., of Juneau, which was a company owned by employees of Wings of Alaska but the Otter continued flying as party of the Wings of Alaska fleet.

During 2004 Wings of Alaska arranged to convert its Otter fleet to the Texas Turbine conversion with the Garrett TPE-331 engine. Some of this work was carried out at the company’s Juneau base, where personnel from Texas Turbine attended to assist. In the case of N339AK its wings and piston engine were removed at Juneau and it was shipped in a crate, along with N338AK (262) to Vernon, BC where both Otters arrived mid October 2004. Here Kal Air carried out the actual installing of the turbine engine in both Otters, this work taking place over the winter of 2004 / 2005. Both Otters left Vernon BC early March 2005 in the crates in which they had arrived and were returned to Juneau where they were re-assembled and painted into a new colour scheme. They then re-entered service with Wings of Alaska as part of its four-strong turbine Otter fleet for summer 2005.

The four Otters (N336AK, N337AK, N338AK and N339AK) were re-registered to Wings Airways Ltd., on 27 October 2008, the company from then on being known as Wings Airways. They were again re-registered on 18 January 2012 to IPA Leasing Inc., Juneau but continued in operation with Wings Airways. IPA stood for Inside Passage Aviation. They continued to fly the cruise ship passengers on sight-seeing flights out of Juneau. The Otters are leased by IPA Leasing Inc to Wings Airways Inc, both companies being owned by company employees.  As at summer 2018 the four Otters continued to fly for Wings Airways Ltd out of the Juneau base.

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.