Otter 398 was delivered to the RCAF on 31st October 1960 with serial 9418. It was allocated to 418 Squadron, Namao. It sustained 'B' category damage on 14th September 1961 in the course of a training flight. On landing back at base at Namao, the student levelled off too high and stalled in. The heavy landing badly damaged the landing gear. As the accident report summarised: “The student misjudged his height above the ground and the captain failed to take over in time to avoid the accident”. The Otter was trucked to the Canadian Pacific Airlines depot at Lincoln Park, Calgary for repair, where it arrived on 29th September 1961. After repair it was re-issued to 418 Squadron, Namao on 11th January 1962. During 1963 it was involved in two SAR missions, in February 1963 for Howard DGA N58856 and in September 1963 for Cessna 175 CF-LBF. On both of these missions it flew alongside 418 Squadron Otter 9417 (396). It continued flying for 418 Squadron until it met with another 'B' category crash on the airbase at Namao on 15th October 1967.
Circuits and landings were being practiced. After a landing using full flap, the flap was pumped to the climb position and the next circuit was started. On the downwind leg, the pilot decided to carry out a practice forced landing. At a point on final approach, approximately eight feet above the ground and at 65 knots, the Otter banked rapidly and struck the ground heavily. The accident report found that the aircraft was established on final approach with the flaps still in the climb position and with the flap selector still in the up position. At an altitude of approximately eight feet, the pilot elected to put down more flap. Without repositioning the selector, he operated the hand pump, but instead of the flaps going down as he intended, they came up. The aircraft sank rapidly and although full throttle was applied, the descent could not be arrested and some serious damage was caused to 9418. That accident ended its RCAF career, during which it had flown 2,127 hours.
The damaged Otter was put into storage at Namao and in September 1968 was moved to the Mountain View depot in Ontario and put up for disposal, in its damaged condition, through the Crown Assets Disposal Corporation. It was one of three damaged Otters sold on 8th February 1971 to Gander Aviation Ltd., of Gander, Newfoundland. The three aircraft were trucked from Mountain View to Weston Aircraft Ltd., Oshawa, Ontario where they were rebuilt for Gander Aviation. On 13th May 1971, as the rebuilds were in progress, marks were allocated for the three Otters, CF-QOQ (46) ex 3685, CF-QOR (375) ex 9409 and CF-QOS (398) ex 9418. Two of the aircraft, QOQ and QOR, were sold on but QOS was registered to Gander Aviation Ltd in June 1971, intended for operation by the company. On 3rd July 1971 William Bennett, the owner of Gander Aviation, performed a fifty five minute test flight at Oshawa in QOS, and on 6th July he flew the Otter to Carp, Ontario where Bristol amphibious floats were fitted. On 8th July he set off on the Otter's delivery flight, routing that day from Carp to Fredericton, New Brunswick and the following day via Charlottetown to Gander, total flying time for the delivery flight being 8 hours 50 minutes. QOS then entered service with Gander Aviation Ltd.
The Otter was used for general charter work around both the island of Newfoundland and in mainland Labrador. It also supported outpost fishing camps in Labrador, at Michael River and Sand Hill River. It was used to fly freight and personnel to Baie d' Espoire, Newfoundland where a power station was being built. Another task was to bring patients in from outlying nursing stations to St. Johns. It was on such a flight that QOS crashed on landing at St. Johns on 11th January 1972. The Otter was flying under charter to the Department of Health. There were seven souls on board, including two pilots and a medical attendant. Two stretcher patients had been picked up at Burgeo, and two more at Harbour Breton. The Otter landed 300 feet short of runway 29 at the St. Johns International Airport, shortly after 5pm that afternoon. The accident report cited as a factor the pilot's lack of familiarity with the aircraft. The Otter came down on rough gravel and was badly damaged, although no one was injured. The ambulances which had been waiting at the airport for the arriving patients drove to the scene and were able to take the patients to hospital.
The Otter was shipped to Montréal for repair, after which it returned to Gander and continued in service with Gander Aviation until August 1974. It had flown 1,304 hours while in service with Gander Aviation. It then went to the mainland for structural modifications before being sold to Direquair Inc., of Chibougamau, Québec in 1975, registered C-FQOS. It was based at Lac Cache and served alongside the company's other two Otters C-FDIO (452) and C-FAPQ (201). There was a change of name to Air Mistassini Inc., in 1981. The following year, Air Mistassini went bankrupt and the Otters were lying at Lac Cache for a time. QOS was sold to Air Melançon Inc of St. Anne du Lac, Québec to whom it was registered in August 1983. It was to fly for Air Melançon for many years and in 1992 was converted to a Vazar turbo Otter.
QOS continued in service with Air Melançon until June 1998, when it was sold to Labrador Airways Ltd., trading as Air Labrador and moved to its new base at Goose Bay. The owners of Air Labrador had an associated company called Tamalik Air, used primarily to support hunting and fishing camps, and QOS was assigned to Tamalik Air and painted in its striking maroon overall colour scheme. When not flying for Tamalik Air, it flew as part of the Air Labrador fleet. For example, during April 2001 it was heavily tasked flying fuel in barrels and groceries from Goose Bay to Border Beacon as the native Innu were moving there from Davis Inlet.
QOS continued flying for Air Labrador / Tamalik Air until an accident on 12th September 2001, which occurred as the Otter was taking off from Otter Creek at Goose Bay en route to a fishing lodge. The pilot reported he was in climb mode when the aircraft pitched forward and then nosed up before entering an uncontrollable nose-down descent, although it did not exhibit characteristics normally associated with an aerodynamic stall. It impacted the water hard, resulting in structural failure of the float supports and extensive damage to the fuselage. “Lab Air 911”, a Twin Otter medevac flight bound for Nain witnessed the incident and raised the alarm. The pilot and three passengers were rescued by boat, but QOS sank in 55 feet of water. It was raised up, and the wreck sold to aircraft dealer Glen W. Ernst of Temecula, California.
To be updated.
Full history up to 2005 courtesy of Karl E Hayes © from DHC-3 Otter - A History (CD-ROM 2005)