Otter 88 was delivered to the United States Army on 25th January 1956 with serial 55-3250 (tail number 53250). It was the thirteenth Otter to be delivered to the Army, and the first to be delivered in the olive drab colour scheme, the first twelve Army Otters having been delivered in the red/white scheme used by topographical survey units. 53250 was delivered from Downsview to the Aviation Test Board at Fort Rucker, Alabama where it was to be thoroughly tested, to establish its capabilities in various military roles. As such, it became a much-photographed machine. On 23/24 August 1956 it was used to air-refuel CH-21C Shawnee serial 54143 “Amblin' Annie” on its 32 hour, non-stop flight from San Diego to Washington, DC. It refuelled the helicopter in 22 minutes at an altitude of five thousand feet. The Otter was equipped with extra fuel tanks and trailed a long hose. The helicopter crewman grabbed the hose with a long hook and pulled it into the right front door, then refuelled extra tanks in the Shawnee. In July 1957 photographs of 53250 show it based at the Yuma Test Station, Arizona where the Aviation Test Board were conducting tests with the Otter in desert terrain and climate.
By January 1962 the Otter was assigned to Army Electronics Command, Fort Monmouth, New Jersey as a test support aircraft. As the Fort did not have an airstrip, the fixed-wing aircraft of the Command were based at the nearby Monmouth County Airport until 1964, when they moved to Lakehurst NAS, New Jersey. 53250 continued in service there until February 1966 when it headed west to the White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico where it was used to support the missile test range, based out of Holloman AFB. This continued until July 1968 when it flew to the Sharpe Army Depot, Stockton, California where it was overhauled and then transported to Vietnam, where it arrived at the 388th Transportation Company in March 1969, who prepared it for service.
The following month, April 1969, it joined the 18th Aviation Company with whom it served until an accident on 27th June 1970. It was then operated by the Pleiku section of the Company's 2nd Platoon. On an aborted landing attempt at Dak Pek Special Forces Camp, 53250 crashed and burned at the north end of the airstrip, sadly killing the co-pilot, crew chief and two passengers. The wreck of the Otter was brought to the 79th Transportation Company at Qui Nhon and scrapped.
Full history courtesy of Karl E. Hayes © from DHC-3 Otter: A History (2005).