DHC-3 Otter Archive Master Index

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX   click on arrows to navigate page by page

c/n 129

CF-JAO of Pacific Western Airlines at Edmonton Municipal Airport, Alberta.
Photo: Unknown photographer © c.1960 - Alberta Aviation Museum - via Ryan C. Lee

c/n 129



• CF- JAO V. C. Simmonds, Edmonton, AB. Delivered 06-Jun-1956.

• CF- JAO Western Aero Renters Ltd. Circa 1956.

• CF- JAO Leased to Pacific Western Airlines (Alberta) Ltd. Circa 1956.

• CF- JAO Northward Aviation Ltd, (A company created by the amalgamation of the charter divisions of Pacific Western Airlines, Bow Valley Industries and Northward Air Services). Circa 1965.

Incident: Edmonton Airport, AB, 26-Feb-1967. Completely destroyed in a hangar fire.

Destroyed by fire


Otter 129 was ordered by Associated Airways Ltd., of Edmonton and registration CF-JAO was allocated to Mr V.C. Simmons who was the Operations Manager of Associated Airways. This was to be its second Otter, the company having already taken delivery of Otter CF-IKK (80) in January 1956. On 9 February 1956 Associated Airways Ltd., was taken over by Pacific Western Airlines. On 28 May 1956 Otter CF-JAO was registered to Western Aero Renters Ltd and the same day received its C.of A. at Downsview. It was delivered on 6 June 1956 as CF-JAO to Pacific Western Airlines (PWA), on lease from Western Aero Renters.

Associated Airways Ltd., then a subsidiary of PWA, changed its name to Pacific Western Airlines (Alberta) Ltd., and by lease dated 15 March 1957 Otter JAO went on lease to this company, which functioned as PWA’s northern bush division. Otter IKK was also registered to this company. As with IKK, the files of the Western Area SAR Co-Ordinator provide interesting data on the comings and goings of JAO during 1957 and 1958 in the remote reaches of the Northwest Territories. It was particularly active flying between Coppermine, Bathurst Inlet, Cambridge Bay, Contwoyto Lake and Yellowknife during the latter part of 1957, servicing mining exploration camps. Routings during 1958 included Yellowknife-Hotta Lake-Port Radium (25 January); Norman Wells-Good Hope-Aklavik (25 April); Norman Wells-East Three-Hay River-Fort Providence-Hay River (17 to 20 May) and Coppermine-Fort Radium-Sawmill Bay-Yellowknife (14 September 1958).

As Don Hamilton recounts in his book “Flying Overloaded” in March 1959 JAO was based at Cambridge Bay, used to fly eskimos to DEW Line sites from camps all over the Territory for annual health checks. A photograph showed the Otter all white, with a red cheatline and tail, with its registration on a band on the tail, with red outer wings. It carried Pacific Western fuselage titles. In July 1959 PWA took over the bush division of Canadian Pacific Airlines, including Otters CF-CZO and CZP, which joined IKK and JAO in service with PWA. These four Otters flew PWA’s summer 1959 schedules, as set out in the company’s July 1959 timetable, around the Northwest Territories.

Although registered to Western Aero Renters Ltd., since delivery, and leased to PWA, it was purchased by PWA in July 1962 and registered on 17 July to Pacific Western Airlines Ltd., Vancouver. The registered owner was changed on 21 February 1963 to Pacific Western Airlines (Alberta) Ltd, Edmonton. All the time it continued to fly as part of PWA’s bush fleet in the Northwest Territories and as well as the scheduled and charter services, it took part in several SAR operations while flying for PWA. During August 1961 it participated in the search for Cessna 180 CF-ICR missing on a flight from Yellowknife to Coppermine. It flew two hours on that search, covering 400 square miles. Also involved in this operation, code-named “SAR Herriman” were RCAF Otters 3694 and 3743 of 111 C&R Flight. CF-JAO was also involved in August 1962 in the search for a missing boat in the vicinity of Tuk Tuk. Also involved in that search were RCAF Otter 3743 and RCMP Otter CF-MPW. CF-JAO then moved base to Inuvik and flew from there for Pacific Western Airlines.

In the summer of 1964 Flight Magazine published the following report: “PWA’s VFR operation at Inuvik is by a single pilot and Otter which together maintain a regular service between five points in the Delta (Inuvik, Aklavik, Fort McPherson, Arctic Red River and Tuktoyaktuk) and also do occasional charters further afield, supplemented by a Cessna 180. The Otter is based on the river at Inuvik, using floats in summer and skis in winter. The pilot of Otter CF-JAO is Wray Douglas and an engineer always flies with him. They maintain the scheduled network around the year without reliefs or standbys. Together the Otter and pilot have averaged over one thousand hours a year during the past five years. Their only time off is during freeze-up and break-up,  when they fly south to Edmonton, 1,400 miles away, so that the aircraft can be given a major check”.

“A flight on the Otter service with JAO to Aklavik and Fort McPherson gave a good idea of the essential part which these VFR services play in the life of the North. In less than two hours we covered distances that would have taken several days by canoe, the only alternative means of transport. There was thick fog in the morning which delayed departure by 35 minutes. There were nine passengers and once they had climbed in, the rest of the cabin, including the aisle and the laps of the passengers, was filled up with a remarkable miscellany – bales, cartons, crates, kitbags, oil drums, suitcases and mail bags. The centre of gravity looked as if it was back somewhere near the tailplane but neither the pilot nor the Otter seemed to think this anything unusual as we climbed above the level of the sparse spruce trees lining the river bank. The economics of these VFR operations appear to be very attractive where there is this much traffic. This summer the Otter has regularly been earning revenue at three times its charter rate of $110 per hour. As the direct operating costs are only about $60 per hour it is clear that this particular operation is good business”.

CF-JAO continued to fly for PWA until by Bill of Sale 2 March 1966 it was transferred to Northward Aviation Ltd., Edmonton, Alberta to whom it was registered on 31 March 1966. This company had been created by the amalgamation of the charter divisions of Pacific Western Airlines, Bow Valley Industries and Northward Air Services. Also transferred to Northward Aviation Ltd., were Otters CF-IKK, CF-CZO and CF-CZP, seven Beavers and a Beech 18. It was to become one of the biggest bush operators in Canada, based at Edmonton, but with its aircraft operating all over the Canadian North. Northward Aviation, which traded as Northland Airlines, took over the operation in the Northwest Territories which PWA had carried on until then.

Otter JAO flew for Northward for the summer of 1966 in the Northwest Territories and at the end of the season was flown south to the maintenance base at Edmonton, where it received a major overhaul and refurbish. Alas, on 26 February 1967 the Northward hangar at Edmonton, in which the Otter was parked, went on fire and the Otter was completely destroyed in the conflagration. Also destroyed were Beavers CF-GQV and CF-ITE, Courier CF-LCD and Beech Bonanza CF-JLY, all of Northward Aviation.

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 web