Otter 76 was delivered to the United States Navy on 19th July 1955 with BuAer serial 142424. Otters 77, 78 and 79 should also have been delivered to the Navy at the same time but were delayed by a strike at DHC. Accordingly, after due ceremony at Downsview to mark the delivery of the Navy's first Otter, 142424 was flown to VX-6 Squadron's base at Patuxent River NAS, Maryland where it was later joined by Otters 60, 62 and 66 which the RCAF had transferred to the Navy, so that the important Antarctic research and development work for which the Navy Otters were required would not be delayed. In Naval service, the Otter was designated the UC-1.
142424 was flown from Patuxent River to NAS Norfolk on 28th October 1955 for disassembly and loading aboard the 'USS Glacier' which then set sail for the Antarctic, also carrying the three ex-RCAF Otters. 142424 was off-loaded and re-assembled at McMurdo Sound on 18th December '55. Twenty seven man hours were required to attach the wings, rig and flight check the aircraft. From 18th to 22nd December, twenty three hours were flown, transporting supplies and personnel. On 22nd December '55 the Otter crashed on take-off near Cape Bird, Ross Island, McMurdo Sound.
The pilot reported that there was something wrong with the controls on take-off. They appeared “spongy” and could not move forward. Fifty feet after take-off, the Otter's skis brushed the snow and the aircraft came down, hitting the ground hard and flat, forcing both main ski struts into the fuselage and coming to rest in a snowdrift. Two passengers, who were not strapped in, suffered injuries. A Navy P2V Neptune flew to the crash site to evacuate the injured, this being the first medical evacuation flight in Antarctic history. The Otter had been destroyed in the crash. All removable parts were salvaged, the Otter then floated out to sea and sunk. It had flown only 87 hours, mostly on training flights at Patuxent River.
Full history courtesy of Karl E. Hayes © from DHC-3 Otter: A History (2005).