DHC-3 Otter Archive Master Index

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c/n 456

CF-UKN at Downsview - CYZD, Ontario.
Photo: Sheldon D. Benner © March 1966 - Karl E. Hayes Collection
N703TH at Campbell River - CYBL, British Columbia.
Photo: Bob Kobzey © April 2013

c/n 456

CF-UKN

N703TH

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• CF-UKN Sherritt Gordon Air Transport Ltd., Lynn Lake, MB. Delivered 04-Mar-1965.

Accident: Lynn Lake, MB. 03-Oct-1970, The accident report summarised as: “Descending turn, dragged wing tip, failed to see/avoid objects, exercised poor judgement, glassy water, unwarranted low flying, substantial damage

• CF-UKN Northway Aviation Ltd., Arnes, MB. Regd 04- Apr-1985, 09-May-1997 & 27-May-2004. Canx 17-Aug-2009 on export to USA..

• N703TH Arctic Aerospace, Richmond, BC. 02-Sep-2009.

Power plant: Turbine Walter M601E 11.

Airworthiness date: 18-Sep-2009.

• N703TH Sky Pro Enterprises Ltd., Las Vegas, NV. Regd 05-Sep-2009.

• N703TH Hans H. Munich, dba., Yaukatat Coastal Airlines, Yukatat, AK. Regd 24-May-2010.

Current

Otter 456 was delivered to Sherritt Gordon Air Transport Ltd., of Lynn Lake, Manitoba on 4 March 1966 registered CF-UKN. The colour scheme was yellow overall with blue cheatline and blue tail stripe. This company was the air transport division of Sherritt Gordon Mines, operators of a nickel mine at Lynn Lake, which was located in a very remote part of Manitoba, over one thousand kilometres north of Winnipeg. Air transport was required to connect the mines with the outside world and as well as the Otter, the company’s fleet included Husky CF-EIR, Beaver CF-FHO, Beech C-45 CF-NUY and Beech 18 CF-YRC. The Otter was equipped with a water bombing tank, for occasions when Lynn Lake was threatened by fire. The fleet, including the Otter, were used to move people and equipment to remote northern locations and to transport personnel south to Winnipeg.

Otter UKN would fly for Sherritt Gordon Air Transport for nearly twenty years, with only one accident recorded, which happened at Lynn Lake on 30 October 1970. While carrying out a low pass over the lake in glassy water conditions, the aircraft struck the water. The right float was torn away and the left float was left hanging from the strut. An emergency landing was made adjacent to the land strip at Lynn Lake on a gravel surface. The accident report summary read: “Descending turn, dragged wing tip, failed to see/avoid objects, exercised poor judgement, unwarranted low flying, substantial damage”. The Otter was repaired and returned to service.

It continued flying for Sherritt Gordon Air Transport until sold to Northway Aviation Ltd of Arnes, Manitoba in April 1985. At first it flew in its original yellow colour scheme with Northway titles, but was then painted into Northway’s own colour scheme. The company later moved to Pine Dock, Manitoba. UKN was its only Otter and it flew for Northway Aviation for 23 years, servicing the fishing camps and settlements of northern Manitoba, providing a full range of bush aviation services. The registration was changed to C-FUKN.

In March 2008 the Otter was sold to STOLAirus of Kelowna, BC. Having up then served the Manitoba bush country, it headed west on its delivery flight, routing from Pine Dock to Swift Current, Saskatchewan, to Cranbrook, BC and then over the mountains to Kelowna, nine hours flying time. At Kelowna, the engine was removed and the aircraft tied down in outside storage, as for the remainder of the year STOLAirus were working on Otter 296, which they had also bought. Otter UKN was waiting conversion to a Walter turbine Otter and would be the tenth such conversion (WTOC#10).

Otter UKN was advertised for sale in February 2009 by Arctic Aerospace of Vancouver, a company associated with STOLAirus. It had total airframe time of 15,250 hours and an asking price, as a converted Walter Turbine Otter of $1,400,000. It was moved inside the hangar in April 2009 and work started on installing the Walter engine. After the conversion was completed, the Canadian registration C-FUKN was cancelled on 17 August 2009 and the Otter was registered on 2 September 2009 as N703TH to Sky Pro Investments Ltd, Las Vegas, Nevada. The Otter retained the colour scheme of its former operator, Northway Aviation, but registration N703TH was applied. It remained in the hangar at Kelowna, alongside Otter 296, which was also for sale. N703TH was still at Kelowna in December 2009 and was again advertised for sale that month by Arctic Aerospace.

The Otter was sold in January 2010 to Yakutat Coastal Airlines of Yakutat, Alaska and acquired the company’s logo on its tail. It remained at Kelowna for a time awaiting delivery. On 30 March 2010 an ELT transmission was heard on frequency 121.5 at Kelowna and the Rescue Co-Ordination Centre was advised. It was traced to Otter N703TH, then parked at Carson Air’s Hangar #3 at Kelowna. It eventually departed from Kelowna on its delivery flight on 11 May 2010, arriving at its new home at Yakutat a few days later, becoming the first Otter to be based there. On24 May 2010 the Otter was registered to Hans W. Munich dba Yakutat Coastal Airlines. It joined a Beaver and a Cessna 185, all on tundra tires.

As its website proclaimed: “Yakutat Coastal Airlines provides service to all corners of Alaska’s Gulf Coast. We fly in and out of Alsek River, Tatshenshini River, Tsui River, Italio River, Situk River, Hubbard Glacier, Icy Bay, Glacier Bay National Park, St.Elias National Park, Lituya Bay and the Yana River. If you are looking for a great Yakutat fishing trip, our Yakutat Air Taxi Service will take you there”. The Otter was at Sealand Aviation in Campbell River, BC during March 2012 for repairs due to a bird strike and went back to Kelowna the following month for some additional work. It was noted passing through Victoria, BC on 18 April 2012 returning to Yakutat for the summer season.

An illustration of a typical day’s work for the Otter comes from an article written by a person who had chartered the aircraft. Along with some friends, in the summer of 2012, he had embarked on a 12 day whitewater rafting trip on the Tatshenshini and Alsek Rivers through the Glacier Bay National Park (Alaska) Kluane National Park (Yukon) and into BC. Their trip ended in Dry Bay and the Otter flew in to collect them, piloted by Hans Munich. “When N703TH landed to pick us up, it managed to come to a stop using just a few hundred feet of airstrip. Loading all our gear into the plane went quickly – Hans was obviously a seasoned pro at getting everything to fit perfectly, and we were soon on our way. The first leg of our flight was to Haines to drop off our gear with the outfitter. This flight took us through the spectacular scenery of the Fairweather Mountains. For the next 45 minutes we flew through narrow mountain passes, next to towering peaks and over crevasse-filled glaciers. We eventually descended out of the ice age and into Haines where we unloaded our gear. The next leg was back to Dry Bay to pick up the rest of our gear and the remaining people from our trip. I was sitting in the right seat chatting to Hans, getting an interesting perspective on being a bush pilot. After a brief stop at Dry Bay we headed north up the coast and landed at the small Yakutat airport. Before we were even done unloading our gear, Hans had the Otter fuelled and was re-loading the plane for his next flight to a remote fishing lodge. Before we could even walk over to the Alaska Airlines terminal, the Otter was back in the air for its next adventure”.

In November 2012 the Otter was offered for lease, with or without a pilot, but this did not happen and it continued in service withy Yakutat Coastal Airlines. In April 2013 the Otter’s Walter M601 engine was replaced with an upgraded H80 engine, becoming the first Otter to have this engine. GE Aviation had acquired the Czech Walter Company and developed the improved engine. The installation was done by Winnipeg River Aircraft, authorised installers of this engine, whose personnel travelled to Yakutat to do the work.

In March 2014 Hans Munich acquired a second Walter Turbine Otter N725TH (466), which joined N703TH in service at the Yakutat base. During autumn 2014 both Otters were used to make up for the lack of a DC-3 which usually serviced the Tsui River commercial fishery, but was unavailable. The Otters flew empty out of Yakutat 125 miles north to the fishery and then back to Yakutat with loads of fish. Both Otters flew again for Yakutat Coastal during 2015 but in May 2016 N725TH was leased to another operator in Seattle, where it was to serve for several years, leaving N703TH to fly for Yakutat Coastal as its only Otter for summer 2016 and later years. It was noted at Kelowna in October 2016 undergoing a major overhaul with STOLAirus before resuming service out of Yakutat. It was back in Kelowna January/February 2018 for winter maintenance, then returning to Yakutat for the summer 2018 season.

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.