Otter 401 was delivered to the RCAF on 14th November 1960 with serial 9420. It was assigned to 442 Squadron at RCAF Station Sea Island, Vancouver on amphibious floats. It was to serve the Squadron for over three years. In July 1961 it deployed to Yellowknife, to support a visit to the Northwest Territories by the Canadian prime minister. The visit was being arranged by 111 Communications & Rescue Flight at Winnipeg but they needed an amphibious Otter. Accordingly, a 111 C&R crew went to Vancouver and borrowed 9420 which, as far as they were concerned, was a “VIP Otter”. 9420 and 3671 (26) of 111 C&R Flight flew from Winnipeg to Yellowknife. On 19th July 1961 the Prime Minister and Mrs. Diefenbaker were flown in 9420 from Yellowknife to Snare River and back the next day. Its VIP duties over, 9420 returned to Sea Island.
On 13th October 1962, the Otter suffered some damage in high winds. On 12th December 1962, 9420 force landed on the water ten miles from Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. Two Albatross aircraft, 9302 and 9305, from 121 Rescue Unit went to the assistance of the Otter, which was towed by boat to French Creek dock for repair. On 24th February 1963 an attempt to take off from the Fraser River was unsuccessful due to a blown cylinder. As darkness was falling, it was towed by boat to Steveston for the night and the following day it was towed to Kitsilano for repair. On 2nd May 1963, 9420 was involved in a 'C' category accident and sustained buckling damage to its starboard float, in the course of a training detail. The pilot was practicing rough water landings. The aircraft struck hard, bounced, and the captain took over from the student and applied full power. The aircraft stalled, but the power succeeded in cushioning the next touchdown, which was gentle. A normal take-off was made from calmer water and the Otter flown back to base, where a landing was safely made. The report found that the pilot had pulled the power off too early, let the aircraft settle, and buried the nose of the starboard float in an oncoming wave. 9420 was flown to the Canadian Pacific Airlines depot at Lincoln Park, Calgary, Alberta for repair of the buckled float, before returning to 442 Squadron.
On 21st February 1964, as 442 Squadron was winding down, the Otter was transferred to 411 Squadron and flew across the country to its new base at Downsview, where it was to serve for the next seventeen years. It suffered another 'C' category incident on 25th June 1966 on a training flight. The pilot was taxying on a lake when the floats came in contact with a shoal. The aircraft was beached and temporary repairs carried out. It was then flown out and returned to base. The water was dark brown, making it difficult to spot submerged objects. Another 'C' category incident occurred on 26th September 1974 during a flight out of Downsview. While on a low-level navigation exercise, the aircraft came in contact with some wires. Although three feet of the vertical stabilizer and the entire rudder were lost, the pilot managed to land the Otter at Kingston, Ontario. It was repaired and continued to serve 411 Squadron until 17th February 1981, when it was withdrawn from service and went into storage at the Mountain View depot, Ontario.
The Otter was put up for disposal through the Crown Assets Disposal Corporation and was one of a number of Otters for sale by auction in February 1982, advertised as having 5,458 hours on the airframe. The purchaser of the Otter was Ram Air Charter Ltd., of Inuvik, Northwest Territories to whom the aircraft was registered C-GBQC in July 1982. The Otter flew for Ram Air during 1982 and 1983 but by early 1984 was parked at Inuvik and for sale. It was sold to Fort Frances Sportsmen Airways Ltd of Fort Frances, Ontario to whom it was registered in June 1984. This company is associated with Northern Wilderness outfitters, serving fishing lodges in the Ontario outback, and twenty years later, in 2004, BQC was still flying for the company, still based at Fort Frances.
To be updated.
Full history up to 2005 courtesy of Karl E Hayes © from DHC-3 Otter - A History (CD-ROM 2005)