DHC-3 Otter Archive Master Index

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c/n 86

C-FBER
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c/n 86

55-3258 • CF-BER

C-FBER

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• 55-3248 United States Army. Delivered 21Jan-1956.

937th Engineer Company (Aviation) for use on the Inter American Geodetic Survey (IAGS), and by Mar-1960 was supporting a survey in Brazil. Continued flying for the IAGS until April 1968

Sharpe Army Depot, Stockton, California for overhaul and was assigned to Intelligence & Security Command.

November '68 joined the 21st Signal Group, moving in March 1969 to the 2nd Signal Group to Vietnam.

Put into storage with the 608th Transportation Company, Dong Ba Thin, Vietnam.

July 1969 with the 79th Transportation Company at Qui Nhon Vietnam.

Outside storage at Army Depot at Atlanta, GA., in October 1969 until May 1972, when it was put up for disposal as military surplus.

• CF-BER Air Craftsmen Ltd., St.John, NB. To restore to civil configuration. Oct / Nov-1972.

• CF-BER Dolbeau Air Service Inc., Chibougamau, QC. Circa 1974.

• CF-BER Direquair Inc., Chibougamau, QC. Circa 1975.

Accident: Chibougamau, 18-Feb-1975 Report states - Final approach; controlled collision with the ground; substantial damage.

• CF-BER A. Fecteau Transport Aerien (later Air Fecteau Ltee), Senneterre, QC. Circa 1976.

• CF-BER Propair Inc., Senneterre, QC. Canx 29-Jul-1985. Re-named from A Fecteau.

Incident: Natashquan, Quebec on 24-Feb-1986. While in the cruised, engine vibration was experienced and the aircraft made a precautionary landing on a bay.

• C-FBER Pickle Lake Air Services, Pickle Lake, ON. Regd Jul-1985. Canx 17-May-1988.

Accident: Unknown location ON. 02-Sep-1986. The float-equipped Otter had departed from Pickle Lake with a cargo of drill rods. While in cruise flight, the crew heard a loud 'pop' noise from the engine. Smoke flowed from the cowlings, followed by fire and a decrease in engine power. The pilot was unable to reach a suitable landing area and he force landed the aircraft in swampy scrub terrain. Both the pilot and passengers were able to escape before the aircraft was destroyed by fire. The engine reduction gear assembly had failed as the result of lack of lubrication.

• C-FBER. Removed from register.

Destroyed

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Otter 86 was delivered to the United States Army on 21st January 1956 with serial 55-3248 (tail number 53248). It was one of the batch of six Otters (tail numbers 53244 to 53249 inclusive) delivered that day to the 937th Engineer Company (Aviation) for use on the Inter American Geodetic Survey (IAGS), as explained in relation to number 82. After arrival at its base at Howard AFB, Panama it was assigned to one of the IAGS Projects and by March 1960 was supporting a survey in Brazil.

This survey was to establish gravity base stations at airports throughout Brazil, to relate gravity surveys to a common datum, as part of a survey by the USAF's 1370th Photo Mapping Wing. This survey was made in co-operation with the IAGS, to fill in the gap in tri-angulation arcs between Venezuela and Brazil. The Otter departed from Howard AFB and routing via Caracas, Venezuela- Georgetown, British Guiana-Paramaribo, Dutch Guiana-Cayenne, French Guiana-Belem, Brazil, making gravity observations at airports along the way. The team spent three months in Brazil, flying all over the country in the Otter, which also received a 500 hour maintenance check at Rio de Janeiro. 53248 then retraced its steps back to Howard AFB, arriving late May 1960 to be greeted on arrival by an Army band. It had been the longest support project ever for a single-engine aircraft team operating on its own from the 937th Engineer Company. These gravity surveys were essential, amongst other reasons, for the USAF's ICBMs (Inter Continental Ballistic Missiles) as if the gravity forces were not known and correctly taken account of, the missile would not land where it was supposed to land.

53248 continued flying for the IAGS until April 1968, when it was one of six Otters withdrawn from the IAGS destined for service in Vietnam. It went first to the Sharpe Army Depot, Stockton, California for overhaul and was assigned to Intelligence & Security Command. When the overhaul was complete in November '68 it was shipped from Stockton to Vietnam, where it joined the 21st Signal
Group, moving in March 1969 to the 2nd Signal Group. The following month, April '69, it was put into storage with the 608th Transportation Company, Dong Ba Thin, then in July 1969 with the 79th Transportation Company at Qui Nhon, from where it was shipped home, arriving at the Army Depot at Atlanta, Georgia in October 1969. It was put into outside storage there alongside several other Otters also returned from Vietnam.

53248 and these other Otters remained in storage at the Atlanta Depot until May 1972, when they were put up for disposal as military surplus. It was one of six Army Otters purchased by Air Craftsmen Ltd., of St.John, New Brunswick, all six of which were located the Atlanta Depot. Air Craftsmen Ltd was a company which traded in Otters, buying military surplus aircraft, restoring them as civilian and selling them on. The six Otters were reserved as CF-BEO/BEP/BEQ/BER/BEU and BEW. The six Otters were flown from Atlanta to St.John during October/November 1972, where they were rebuilt and civilianised. Otter 86 was registered to Air Craftsmen Ltd as CF-BER. After rebuild CF-BER was sold in 1974 to Dolbeau Air Service Inc., of Chibougamau, Quebec and in 1975 was in operation with Direquair Inc, also based at Chibougamau. The ski-equipped Otter was involved in a crash at its base on 18th February 1975, summarised as “Final approach; controlled collision with the ground; substantial damage”. The Otter was repaired and in 1976 joined the fleet of A.Fecteau Transport Aerien (later Air Fecteau Ltée) of Senneterre, Quebec. This company evolved into Propair Inc., to whom the Otter was registered in May 1982, and it continued to serve the Quebec bush country. It was involved in another incident at Natashquan, Quebec on 24th February 1986. While in the cruise, engine vibration was experienced and the Otter made a precautionary landing on a bay.

Later that year, C-FBER was sold to Pickle Lake Air Services of Pickle Lake, Ontario with whom it met its end on 2nd September 1986. The float-equipped Otter had departed from Pickle Lake with a cargo of drill rods. While in cruise flight, the crew heard a loud 'pop' noise from the engine. Smoke flowed from the cowlings, followed by fire and a decrease in engine power. The pilot was unable to reach a suitable landing area and he force landed the aircraft in swampy scrub terrain. Both the pilot and passengers were able to escape before the aircraft was destroyed by fire. The engine reduction gear assembly had failed as the result of lack of lubrication.

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

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