DHC-3 Otter Archive Master Index

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c/n 62

144260
No photographs at this time.
Photo:

c/n 62

3695

144260

X

• 3695 RCAF on 4th January 1955 with serial 3695, but never entered RCAF service, being put into storage with No.6 Repair Depot, Trenton as a reserve aircraft.

• 144260 US Navy VX-6 Squadron, Antarctica in December 1955. Unloaded and re-assembled at Little America V station where it was based.

Accident:Antartica. 03-Feb-1956, Two hours after leaving Little America V while en-route to Mile 38 of the Army-Navy Trail the Otter started picking up icing on the propeller and the aircraft flew into the summit of a snow covered mountain  Edward VII Peninsula in Antarctica. The crash of the impact was slight and no one was injured. The survivors walked 40 miles of the 110 miles back to Little America V before being rescued by a VX-6 helicopter.

Note: The aircraft had flown only 114 hours in Naval service at the time of its demise.

Written off

Otter 62 was delivered to the RCAF on 4th January 1955 with serial 3695, but never entered RCAF service, being put into storage with No.6 Repair Depot, Trenton as a reserve aircraft. As explained in relation to number 60, it was one of three RCAF Otters transferred to the United States Navy on 21st September 1955 to replace three Navy Otters urgently required for work in the Antarctic, but delayed due to a strike at DHC. On being accepted by the Navy, the Otter was allocated BuAer serial 144260. The Navy's own first Otter (142424) and the three ex RCAF Otters, were placed on board the 'USS Glacier' which sailed to the Antarctic where they were unloaded and entered service with VX-6 Squadron in December 1955. Although the other three Otters were assembled at the McMurdo base, 144260 was unloaded and re-assembled at Little America V station, where it was based. It was used initially for trail reconnaissance and transporting supplies and personnel from the bay ice to the camp site at Little America V.

On 3rd February 1956 144260 was dispatched from its Little America V base to pick up a traverse party. The tractor trail reconnaissance party surveying the route to Byrd Station had reached a position 420 miles from Little America. Progress was halted at this point in a heavily crevassed area. It was decided to abandon the equipment until the next year's operation and evacuate the personnel by air. 144260 set off from Little America and landed at Fuel Cache 6 where the party were located. The Otter took off at 0408 hours with four evacuees in addition to the three crew members. The flight communicated with Little America by HF radio at 0515 hours. The alarm was raised at 0745 when it became overdue. The aircraft had started to pick up ice while flying at 4,000 feet. When ice
continued to form, it could not maintain altitude and had flown into the summit of Mount Edward VII Peninsula.

On board the 'USS Arneb' at McMurdo, very weak emergency signals were received from the missing aircraft at regular intervals. Although contact had been established, the location of the crash and the condition of the survivors was unknown. Otter 144261 was loaded onto the icebreaker 'Eastwind' at McMurdo Sound and the vessel headed for Kainan Bay to join in the search. Several attempts were made to fly Otter 144259 from McMurdo to Little America to assist in the search but each time the pilot was forced to return due weather. As a last resort, it was loaded onto the 'USS Glacier' at McMurdo but on 10th February while being unloaded at Kainan Bay the sling broke and 144259 was destroyed in the fall. The Navy decided to dispatch a P2V Neptune aircraft from the United States to assist in the search. On 7th February, P2V tail number 124466 departed Patuxent River NAS for Little America via Manaus, Brazil, Ascuncion, Paraguay and Rio Gallegos, Argentine. To add to the crisis, it had to make a forced landing in a jungle clearing in Venezuela. Fortunately no one was injured and the crew were rescued by helicopter. For a full week, efforts were made to find and rescue the survivors of the crash of Otter 144260. The crash site was eventually located by Otter 144261 flying from Little America. It was at a point about 125 nautical miles northeast of Little America. The rescue Otter was unable to land because of the terrain and a Sikorsky H04S helicopter was dispatched from the advance base at Cache 4. On arrival at the crash site, it was found to be deserted, the seven occupants of the downed Otter having begun walking towards the coast. The helicopter followed their sledge trail and found them in good health. After waiting for three days for rescue and fearing their food would run out, the survivors had started walking towards the Ross Sea coast. It was felt they would be able to survive on seal and penguin meat on reaching the coast. In four days the party had walked 40 of the 65 miles to Okuma Bay, where they were rescued.

Otter 144260 had flown only 114 hours in Naval service at the time of its demise.

Full history courtesy of Karl E. Hayes © from DHC-3 Otter: A History (2005).