DHC-3 Otter Archive Master Index

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c/n 287

58-1682 while stored in MASDC at Davis-Monthan AFB.
Photo: Unkinown photographer © 1973 - Karl E. Hayes Collection
C-GYKO in Ontario Central Airlines colours.
Photo: Unknown photographer © May 1980 - Karl E. Hayes Collection
C-GYKO at Pickle Lake, Ontario.
Photo: Keith Fox © September 1988 - Aird Archives
C-GYKO all wrapped up.
Photo: Rich Hulina © March 1997 - Karl E. Hayes Collection
C-GYKO at Minaki, Ontario.
Photo: Karl E. Hayes © May 2004

c/n 287




• 58-1682 United States Army on 17th October 1958 with serial 58-1682.

Allocated to US Army Military Academy, 2nd Aviation Detachment, Westpoint, NY.

10-Jun-1973 MASDC., Davis-Monthan AFB., Tucson, AZ. on 10th June 1973. PCN (Product Control Number) UA005.

• N22UT University of Tennessee Space Institute, Tullahoma, TN. Regd 11-Apr-1974.

Accident: Franklin County Airport, Winchester, TN. 17-Mar-1975. In the course of a short field take off, during the initial climb in a left turn, the left wing dropped, the aircraft stalled and crashed back to the ground. The pilot, the only occupant, was seriously injured. The aircraft was substantially damaged.

Note: Purchased by Ontario Central Airlines, Winnipeg, MB., and rebuilt.

C-GYKO 24-Jan-1977. Temporary Certificate of Registration issued and a permit to test fly.

• C-GYKO Ontario Central Airlines, Gimli, MB. Regd 28-Jun-1977.

• C-GYKO Central Air Transport Limited, Sioux Lookout, ON. Regd 26-Oct-1985. Canx 13-Dec-1988.

• C-GYKO Gold Belt Air Transport Ltd., Sioux Lookout, ON.  Regd April 1987. (Perhaps leased, as not shown on CCAR).

• C-GYKO Ashuanipi Aviation Ltd., Labrador City, NL. Based Little Wabush Lake. Regd 19-Dec-1988. Canx 08-Aug-1991.

• C-GYKO Alexandair Inc., Sept Îles, QC. Regd August 1990. (Perhaps leased, as not shown on CCAR).

Accident: One mile west of Lac Sale, QC, 05-Oct-1990. While flown by Alexandair, during climb out, at an altitude of two hundred feet, a loss of engine power was experienced. A forced landing was made in an alder grove. The damage was repaired.

 • C-GYKO Ashuanipi Aviation Ltd., Labrador City, NL. Based Little Wabush Lake. Regd 05-Feb-1993. Canx 13-Sep-1994.

• C-GYKO Walsten Aircraft Parts & Leasing Inc., (dba Mandair), Kenora, ON. Regd Sep-1994. Not shown on CCAR.

• C-GYKO River Air Ltd., Kenora, ON. Based Pistol Lake, Minaki, ON. Regd 14 & 18-Jun-1996.

Power plant: Flew to Salina, TX during 2002, where it was converted to turbine power with a Garrett TPE-331 engine. A Texas Turbine.


Otter 287 was delivered to the United States Army on 17 October 1958 with serial 58-1682 (tail number 81682). The Otter was allocated to the US Army Military Academy at Westpoint, New York where it was to spend the rest of its military career. It was delivered from Downsview to Westpoint.

The Otter was operated by the 2nd Aviation Detachment which also had a UH-1A helicopter, Cessna 0-1 and a U-8D and U-8F Seminole. All the aircraft were based at Stewart AFB., in New York state, but operated for the Academy. At Stewart, the Detachment had taken over an old Air Force alert hangar, where they housed the Otter and other aircraft. The mission of the Detachment was the support of training of the Westpoint cadets and for this purpose the Otter flew demonstration flights and parachute flights and flew freight. 81682 was in standard Army olive drab scheme but sported the Academy crest on the tail.

The Otter continued in service until May 1973, before commencing the long cross-country flight to Tucson, Arizona where it entered the MASDC., storage compounds on 10 June 1973, being allocated PCN (Product Control Number)  UA005. It was the fifth and last Army Otter to be stored in the Sonora Desert “boneyard” and its period of retirement there was less than a year. It left on 11 April 1974 having been allocated to the University of Tennessee Space Institute at Tullahoma, Tennessee to whom it was registered N22UT in April 1974. The Otter was substantially damaged in a crash at the Franklin County Airport, Winchester, Tennessee on 17 March 1975. In the course of a short field take off, during the initial climb in a left turn, the left wing dropped, the aircraft stalled and crashed back to the ground. The pilot, the only occupant, was seriously injured. That ended the Otter’s career with the University of Tennessee, although they did obtain a replacement Otter, N2750 (261).

Otter 287 was purchased by Ontario Central Airlines of Winnipeg, Manitoba who brought the wreck to Winnipeg and rebuilt it. On 24 January 1977 a temporary Certificate of Registration as C-GYKO was issued and a permit to test fly. Formal registration to Ontario Central Airlines was on 28 June 1977 and C-GYKO entered service, based at Gimli, Manitoba. The Otter was painted in an overall yellow scheme with a red cheatline and ‘OCA’ on the tail. The company flew several DC-3s, Beech 18s and Norsemen but YKO was its only Otter, used to provide bush services to northern Manitoba.

The Otter was sold to Central Air Transport in June 1980, to replace its Otter CF-GBX (4) which had crashed the previous month.  Central Air Transport had bases in Sioux Lookout and Pickle Lake, to serve the bush country of Northwest Ontario.  YKO retained the overall yellow scheme with red trim of its previous operator and would later be joined by Otters GTL (10) and CZO (71).  While flying for Central Air Transport, the pilot of YKO got into some trouble on 22 June 1987. He had departed from Pickle Lake en route to Keezhic Lake with cargo comprising mining equipment and supplies. The pilot was concerned about the weight, as the floats were deep in the water, but took off anyway. It was a hot day and he couldn’t climb above 1,800 feet and found the aircraft slow and heavy. He returned to Pickle Lake due adverse weather en route. He weighed the cargo at that stage and found that the Otter had been considerably overweight, by 830 pounds. This incident came to the attention of the Minister for Transport, who suspended the pilot’s licence for two days.

Later in 1987 Central Air Transport changed its name to Gold Belt Air Transport and YKO continued flying from Sioux Lookout until it was sold and its registration to the company cancelled on 13 December 1988. The next operator of the Otter was Ashuanipi Aviation Ltd., of Labrador City – Little Wabush Lake to whom the Otter was registered on 19 December 1988. This company provided floatplane service to fishing camps and lodges along the Ashuanipi River in Labrador. The Otter was leased to Alexandair Inc of Quebec in August 1990 and was flying for this company when it crashed on 5 October 1990. During climb out, at an altitude of 200 feet, a loss of engine power was experienced. A forced landing was made in an alder grove one mile west of Lac Sale, Quebec. This accident was to put an end to its flying career for a time, but it was eventually rebuilt and returned to service with Ashuanipi Aviation.

The Otter was sold to Walsten Aircraft Parts and Leasing Inc., of Kenora, Ontario in September 1994, who took delivery of the Otter in Montreal and flew it back to Kenora. For summer 1995 it went on lease to North of Sixty Flying Services, based out of Obre Lake, Northwest Territories, serving the company’s fishing guests, returning to Kenora at the end of the summer season. Over the winter of 1995 / 1996 it was overhauled at Redditt, Ontario just north of Kenora and painted into a new colour scheme of white upper fuselage, black lower fuselage and a cheatline of varying shades of blue, a colour scheme it was destined to carry for many years, and was put up for sale. In June 1996 it was sold to River Air Ltd., of Pistol Lake, Minaki, Ontario to whom it was registered on 14 June 1996.

As the company’s website proclaimed: “Based in Minaki, just fifteen air miles south of English River, is River Air, the charter service owned and operated by George and Gene Halley. Their aircraft provide a scenic transport to which-ever fly-in camp you are going to. Once there you may wish to arrange a daily fly-out fishing trip for Lake Trout, Muskie or Smallmouth Bass, or to one of the more than thirty outlying lakes where we have cached boats and motors”. YKO was destined to fly for River Air for many years, initially as a piston-engined Otter but later as a turbine.

During 2002, at the end of the summer season, YKO was flown down to Salina, Texas by George Halley where it was converted to turbine power with a Garrett TPE-331, becoming the fourth Texas Turbine conversion. The company was offering the first five conversion kits at a price of US$175,000 installed at its facility in Salina, so River Air availed of this opportunity. Return routing from Salina was via Sioux Falls, South Dakota-Mount Video, Minnesota-International Falls, Minnesota-Minaki where it re-entered service with River Air, its popularity with the company’s customers ensuring that it remained in service for many years.

An incident was recorded on CADORS on 8 July 2011, involving Otter YKO and a Sikorsky S-76A of Canadian Helicopters operating as CDN 794, a medevac flight. The helicopter was on a VFR flight from White Dog Lake to Kenora. The Otter was inbound VFR to the Kenora water aerodrome. The S-76 reported twenty miles north-west of Kenora, inbound at 1639, with no other aircraft on the published frequency. At 1647 the S-76 reported on final approach and observed Otter YKO passing close on their east side, landing on the water aerodrome. The S-76 crew claimed that the Otter was operating in close proximity to their helicopter and not using the published frequency.

YKO continued flying for River Air and by November 2017 had been re-painted into a new colour scheme of white overall with an orange cheatline, River Air fuselage titles and the registration on the tail. It was the Otter’s twenty first year of service with River Air. 

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 website.