DHC-3 Otter Archive Master Index

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c/n 329

58-1712 at Bryant AAF - Fort Richardson, Anchorage, Alaska.
Photo: Unknown photographer © September 1974 - Karl E. Hayes Collection
C-GLFL soon after her arrival at Gander.
Photo: G. Killan © 11 June 1975 - Michael J. Ody Collection
C-GLFL minus a pretty important part.
Photo: Karl E. Hayes © May 2001
C-GLFL at the Lac Sebastien base, near Chicoutimi, Québec.
Photo: Kenneth I. Swartz © 01 May 2004 - Karl E. Hayes Collection

c/n 329

59-1712

C-GLFL

x

• 59-1712 United States Army. Delivered 26-May-1959.

Initially allocated to the 18th Aviation Company, Fort Riley, KS.

Jan-1962. Travelled with the Company to Vietnam.

Mar-1966. Returned to USA for overhaul at the Army Aeronautical Depot Maintenance Centre (ARADMAC) Depot, Corpus Christi, TX.

May-1966. Returned to Vietnam for the 18th Aviation Company.

Jun-1969. Transhipped back to US.

Aug-1969. Arrived at Sharpe Army Depot, Stockton. CA for temporary storage.

Jun-1970. To an (currently unknown) Army National Guard Unit.

Nov-1970. Returned to Sharpe Army Depot, Stockton. CA.

May-1971. To Fort Greely, AK as a test support aircraft with the Army Test & Evaluation Command, Arctic Test Center.

Aug-1973. Attached to the Headquarter's Detachment, AK., Army National Guard at Fort Richardson.

Accident. Ft. Richardson, AK. 22-Aug-1973. On a short final for a short field landing, the aircraft stalled and fell from twenty feet altitude fifteen feet short of the runway, causing damage to the tailwheel.

Mar-1975 Deleted from the Army inventory.

• Un regd. Civil Air Patrol, Alaska Wing. It was not however used by the CAP, but was stored at their base at Ten Mile Pond outside Anchorage, lying in the open (See also c/n 270).

• C-GLFL William Bennett dba Gander Aviation Ltd., Gander, NL. Regd circa Jul-1975. See below for story of delivery flight.

• C-GLFL Air Gava Ltée., Schefferville, QC. Circa 1977.

Power plant: The aircraft was re-engined with a Polish PZL-3S engine by Airtech Canada at their Peterborough, Ontario facility.

Total time. 9,368 hours at 1981.

• C-GLFL Air Saguenay (1980) Inc., Chicoutimi / Lac St. Sebastien, QC. Regd Apr-1984.

Current

Otter 329 was delivered to the United States Army on 26 May 1959 with serial 58-1712 (tail number 81712). It was first assigned to the 18th Aviation Company, Fort Riley, Kansas and travelled with the 18th to Vietnam during December 1961 / January 1962. It was based at Nha Trang during 1963 / 1964, also spending time on temporary duty at Da Nang. The Otter continued flying with the 18th Aviation Company until March 1966 when it returned to the United States for depot level maintenance at the ARADMAC depot, Corpus Christi, Texas. On completion of the work in May 1966 it went back to Vietnam and re-joined the 18th Aviation Company. It continued to serve until June 1969 when it returned to the United States, arriving at the Sharpe Army Depot, Stockton, California in August 1969.

81712 remained in storage at Stockton until June 1970 when, along with 81713 (330), which had also returned from Vietnam, it was assigned to an Army National Guard unit (unit code WQHKAA). Both Otters served with this unit until November 1970, when they both returned to storage at Stockton. In May 1971 both of these Otters headed north for Alaska, to continue with their Army careers, although they served with different units. 81712 was assigned to Fort Greely, Alaska where it replaced 81720 (339) as a test support aircraft with the Army Test & Evaluation Command, Arctic Test Center. It continued to serve there until August 1973, when it joined HHD, Alaska Army National Guard at Fort Richardson.

An incident was recorded shortly after it arrived at Fort Richardson. On 23 August 1973, on short finals for a short field landing, the Otter stalled and fell from twenty feet altitude, fifteen feet short of the runway, causing damage to the tailwheel, which was repaired. The Otter was noted at Fort Richardson in September 1974 and was not carrying any unit marks at that time. It was assigned to another Army Guard unit in Alaska (unit code WTNYAA) in February 1975 and served with that unit for a month, before being deleted from the Army inventory in March 1975 and transferred to the Alaska Wing of the Civil Air Patrol (CAP). At the same time Otter 76128 (270) was also transferred to the CAP, having served with the 12th Aviation Company in Alaska.

Although both of these Otters had been granted to the CAP, it appears they had no use for them, and both were put into storage at Ten Mile Pond outside of Anchorage. Otter 76128 was in a dilapidated state but had a good engine. Otter 81712 was in good shape but its engine was shot. Accordingly, the CAP put the good engine on 81712 and the shot engine on 76128 and advertised both Otters for sale.  The buyer of both Otters was William Bennett, owner of Gander Aviation Ltd., of Gander, Newfoundland. Canadian registrations were allocated for the two Otters, C-GLFK for 270 and C-GLFL for 329. Bill Bennett and two employees travelled to Anchorage to take possession of their Otters. 76128 (270) was dismantled, packed into a container and shipped to Vancouver and then overland to Gander but the other Otter was to be flown home.

Still painted in its Army olive drab colour and with marks C-GLFL crudely applied, the Otter on straight floats set off from Anchorage on Friday 4 July 1975 for an epic, history-making, water-hopping ferry flight from Anchorage to Gander, a distance of 6,200 miles. Bill Bennett flew the Otter and was accompanied by his two engineers. Routing was Ten Mile Pond-Whitehorse-Yellowknife-Hay River-Uranium City-God’s Lake Narrows (Manitoba)-points in northern  Ontario-Ottawa-St.Augustin (Québec)-Sept Îles (Québec)-Gander. As a newspaper article reported: “The route home took Mr Bennett and his crew across Alaska, through the Yukon, into the Northwest Territories, through northern Manitoba and Ontario and finally into Québec and Newfoundland. The trip was described as very exciting, as they flew over glaciers and through spectacular mountain passes. They experienced excellent flying weather until northern Ontario where they hit hot, muggy weather which reduced visibility considerably. As soon as they approached the Québec north shore they were socked in by fog and were forced to spend one day and night in Sept Îles. They arrived in Gander on Thursday 10 July 1975, having flown 52 hours over seven days to complete the 6,200 mile journey”.

The addition of the Otter increased the fleet of Gander Aviation to nine aircraft. After it was overhauled and painted into Gander Aviation’s colours, the Otter and two Beavers were sent to Labrador where they were used to move fuel for helicopters along the transmission line being constructed from the Lower Churchill to Newfoundland, in conjunction with the development of the Lower Churchill Falls Trans-Labrador power line. Otter C-GLFL continued to fly for Gander Aviation Ltd., until sold to Air Gava Ltée., of Schefferville, Québec in 1977, where it served the bush country of northern Québec. It was re-engined with a Polish PZL-3S engine by Airtech Canada at their Peterborough, Ontario facility on behalf of Air Gava and arrived back at Schefferville with its new engine on 26 July 1981. However all was not well financially with Air Gava and it closed down at the end of the summer 1981 season.  The registration of LFL to Air Gava was cancelled on 7 October 1982.

C&S Enterprises Ltd., brokers, of Ontario were appointed by the creditors to sell Air Gava’s fleet of aircraft, including its three Otters C-FQMN (184), C-GLFL (329) and C-GLCR (425). “Steal these bank repossessions” proclaimed their advertisement!  LFL had at that stage of its career a total time of 9,368 hours and with a new Certificate of Airworthiness had an asking price of $195,000 Canadian. The buyer of the Otter was Air Saguenay (1980) Inc., of Chicoutimi Lac St.Sebastien, Québec to whom LFL was registered on 4 May 1984. It joined C-GVNL (105) as Air Saguenay’s second Otter and many more subsequently joined the fleet. Air Saguenay arranged for it to be re-engined with the Polish PZL-1000 horse power engine, this work again being undertaken by Airtech at Peterborough, and they had the Otter painted in their striking red colour scheme. It was destined to serve with Air Saguenay for many years, as part of their large Otter fleet.

An incident was recorded on CADORS on 8 July 2006. A loud, clear emergency locator transmitter (ELT) was picked up for two hours by a number of aircraft at high flight levels. Trenton RCC and Halifax RCC were informed. The source of the signal was located, being Otter C-GLFL which had just made a hard water landing on Lac Louise near Manicouagan, Quéebec.  In January 2018 C-GLFL was still flying for Air Saguenay with its PZL-100 engine, a remarkable thirty three years after it joined the company and not having suffered any incident during this period.

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.