G303 • (CF-ZFJ) • N17680 • (C-GLCN) • XA-FEV • C-GMAT • N2783J
• G303 Ghana Air Force. Delivered on 8th May 1961.
During 1970, Lambair of Manitoba negotiated with the Ghana Air Force with a view to purchasing a number of their Otters, including 418.
• (CF-ZFJ) The registration was allotted to Lambair Ltd., The Pas. MB 21-Apr-1971. However the deal did not proceed and the The allotment was withdrawn by Department of Transport 30-Apr-1971.
• G303 Ghana Air Force. Continued in service until withdrawn in 1973 and offered for sale.
.• N17680 Joseph V. Masin, Rodenkirchen, West Germany. Regd 23-Jun-1974.
• (C-GLCN) Air Craftsmen Ltd., of St.John, NB. Res’d 26-Apr-1974. ntu.
• XA-FEV Aerosierra de Durango in October 1975.
• C-GMAT Mackenzie Air Ltd, Edmonton Municipal Airport, AB.
• C-GMAT La Ronge Aviation Services Ltd., La Ronge, SK. Regd 02-Sep-1976 Canx 16-Nov-1982.
Accident: Neultin Lake, NT. 23-Aug-1980. The pilot was engaged in transporting six passengers from Lynn Lake, Manitoba to a tourist camp at Neultin Lake. He attempted to take off from Neultin Lake in 3 to 4 foot waves but shortly before lift off the left float dug in and the Otter nosed over. Recovered by helicopter to Calgary, AB.
Note Kimba Air Ltd., purchased and rebuilt the aircraft from Jun-1982 but the aircraft remained registered to La Ronge.
• N2783J Harold J. Hansen / General Aircraft Supplies, Boeing Field, Seattle, WA.
• N2783J Tyee Airlines Inc., Ketchikan, AK. Regd Apr-1983.
• N2783J Temsco Helicopters Inc., Ketchikan, AK. Regd Mar-1985.
• N2783J The fixed wing section of the company was renamed Temsco Airlines Inc.
Note: Temsco Helicopters had purchased Tyee Airlines and its aircraft.in Jan 1985. (Temsco was an acronym of the words: Timber, Exploration, Mining, Survey, Cargo Operations). November 1991, Temsco's fixed wing division was closed down in November 1991.
• N2783J Wings Airline Services Inc., dba Wings of Alaska, Juneau, AK. Regd Mar-1993.
• N337AK Alaska Juneau Aeronautics Inc., dba Wings of Alaska, Juneau, AK. Regd Apr-1994.
• N337AK Alaska Coastal Airlines Inc., dba Wings of Alaska, Juneau, AK. Regd Apr 2002.
Power plant. Converted to a Texas Turbine Otter at Juneau. Winter 2003 / 2004.
• N337AK IPA Leasing Inc., Juneau, AK. Continued to operate under the Wings of Alaska banner. Regd 11-Aug-2008.
• Current •
Otter 418 was delivered to the Ghana Air Force on 8th May 1961 with serial G303. It was the fourth of an order for twelve Otters, all of which were packed into crates and shipped to Ghana, where they were re-assembled and entered service. They were based at Takoradi Air Base. During 1970, Lambair of Manitoba negotiated with the Ghana Air Force with a view to purchasing a number of their Otters, including 418 and marks CF-ZFJ were reserved but no deal was concluded and G303 remained in the service of the Ghana Air Force.
The Otters were withdrawn from service in 1973 and put up for sale. Eight of the Ghana Air Force Otters were acquired by brokers Masin Aircraft of Cologne, Germany. They were put up for sale in March 1974 by Masin Aircraft, advertised as “priced to sell, single or in lot”. Included in the sale was one former US Army Otter (189) which Masin Aircraft had also acquired, and the advert in Flight Magazine read: “Nine Otters available with all supporting ground equipment. Tools, spare engines, spare parts for engines and airframes. Two sets of amphibious floats, one set of normal floats”. Otter.
All nine Otters were sold by Masin Aircraft to Air Craftsmen Ltd., of St.John, New Brunswick, a company which specialised in buying, refurbishing and selling on ex-military Otters. On 26th April 1974 marks C-GLCN were reserved for the Otter but in the event were not taken up, and it was arranged that the aircraft would be flown to Canada using its American registration. Ferry pilots were employed by Air Craftsmen Ltd., to fly the Otters from Takoradi Air Base, Ghana to St.John, New Brunswick. The full delivery routing is unfortunately unknown, but N17680 routed Biarritz to London's Gatwick Airport on 23rd June 1974, continuing on to Fairoaks, where it was to remain for nearly two months while ferry tanks were installed. On 28th August 1974 it flew Fairoaks-Bembridge-Prestwick, before setting off on the long ocean crossing, via Reykjavik, Iceland and Greenland to St.John. On arrival, it entered the Air Craftsmen Ltd., hangar where it was overhauled and civilianised and made ready for the next stage of its career.
By September 1975 the Otter was ready and Air Craftsmen Ltd., agreed to sell this Otter, as well as Otter 431, another of the former Ghana Air Force aircraft to a Mr Peter Pess of San Diego, California, who was involved with a Mexican airline known as Aerosierra de Durango. The two Otters were registered to Aerosierra de Durango in October 1975, 418 becoming XA-FEV and 431 becoming XA- FEU, and they set off from St.John crossing the North American continent to Brown Field, San Diego and then further south to their new base at Durango in Mexico. The two Otters were acquired for a specific contract, to transport personnel to lumber camps high in the Sierra Madre mountains. Their base at Durango was at an altitude of 8,000 feet, and some of the dirt strips they flew into were over 13,500 feet up in the mountains. Both Otters were fitted with larger than usual propellers, to help them with these high altitudes. The Otters replaced a Ford Tri-Motor, which the company had used for years on this task. The Otters were operated in 'high density' configuration - 8 rows of three-place benches. Despite these arduous conditions, both XA-FEU and 'FEV operated these services without mishap, and survived their adventures in the Mexican mountains.
Otter 418 was the first of the two to leave Mexico. On 6th August 1976 a ferry permit was issued for XA-FEV to leave Mexico via Tijuana, with an ultimate destination of Edmonton. First however the Otter was flown to Brown Field, San Diego where it was to be overhauled before its next assignment. A new engine was installed by Peter Pess. He asked his friend, Chuck Ross, who had three thousand hours of tail-dragger time, to accompany him as they put up a few hours on the new engine. As Chuck Ross relates: “On 15th August 1976 we took off from San Diego's Lindbergh Field in XA-FEV and flew up the coast, just sightseeing. We turned inland and landed at Carlsbad, parking at Marginal Airmotive, where they restored warbirds. Even with a P-40, a P-47 and a Feisler Storch parked on the ramp, we drew a crowd. We chatted with the people there for a while and then flew to Ramona, an air tanker base during the fire season. Again, we drew a crowd. There were a couple of C-119s and an S2F there, but people came from all over the field to gawk at the Otter. From there we flew to Montgomery Field for the FAA to have a look at the plane and then returned to San Diego”.
From San Diego the Otter continued on to Edmonton where on arrival it was registered C-GMAT to Mackenzie Air Ltd., based at Edmonton Municipal Airport. This company was a subsidiary of La Ronge Aviation Services Ltd., and on 31st August 1976, MAT flew on to La Ronge, Saskatchewan. On 2nd September 1976 it was registered to La Ronge Aviation Services Ltd., and entered service with them, based at La Ronge. It continued in service until a crash at Neultin Lake, Northwest Territories on 23rd August 1980. The pilot was engaged in transporting six passengers from Lynn Lake, Manitoba to a tourist camp at Neultin Lake. He attempted to take off from Neultin Lake in 3 to 4 foot waves but shortly before lift off the left float dug in and the Otter nosed over. The pilot had earlier landed on a sheltered bay near the camp but felt that this was too short for take off, so he used the main lake which was exposed to thirty knot winds.
That crash marked the end of the Otter's career with La Ronge Aviation Services. It was fished out of Neultin Lake by helicopter and transported by road to Calgary, where it arrived 11th June 1981. It was sold by La Ronge to Kimba Air Ltd., on 22nd June, and rebuilt by Kimba Air and on 16th November 1982 it was sold to Harold J. Hansen/General Aircraft Supplies of Boeing Field, Seattle and registered N2783J. He sold it on and in April 1983 the Otter was registered to Tyee Airlines Inc., of Ketchikan, Alaska, joining their existing Otters N9895B (194) and N68086 (288). In January 1985, Temsco Helicopters, another Ketchikan-based operator, purchased Tyee Airlines and its aircraft. N2783J was registered to Temsco Helicopters Inc., in March 1985 and was noted on overhaul at Vancouver during May prior to entering service with Temsco Airlines, as it became known. By 1989 Temsco Airlines were operating a fleet of 9 Otters. All however was not going well and in November 1991, Temsco's fixed wing division was closed down, although the helicopter division continued in business.
After a period 'at rest', N2783J was purchased by Wings Airline Services Inc., trading as Wings of Alaska, and registered to them in March 1993, flying from their base at Juneau. In April 1994 it was re-registered N337AK to Alaska Juneau Aeronautics Inc., trading as Wings of Alaska, and continued flying as part of their fleet. In April 2002 there was a change of registered owner to Alaska Coastal Airlines Inc., of Juneau, but all the time remaining part of the Wings of Alaska operation. During the winter of 2003 / 2004 N337AK was converted to a Texas Turbine Otter at Juneau. A minor incident was recorded on 12th May 2004 when N337AK ran into sister ship N336AK (333) while docking in Juneau Harbour. Only superficial damage was caused and both Otters were soon back in service. The Otters are used by Wings of Alaska mostly to fly cruise ship passengers on scenic flights.
Full history up to 2005 courtesy of Karl E Hayes © from DHC-3 Otter - A History (CD-ROM 2005)