DHC-3 Otter Archive Master Index

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c/n 455

CF-RWU of ATLAS AVIATION at Ottawa - Uplands, Ontario.
Photo: Peter Marshall © 1969 - Gary Vincent Collection

c/n 455




Entries preceded by date are extracts from Canadian Department of Transport archives.

02-Dec-1964 allotment of CF-RWU to DHC-3 msn 455 for de Havilland Aircraft Company of Canada Ltd.

29-Jan-1965 test flown at DHC for Aircraft Inspection Release Certificate.

03-Feb-1965 Certificate of Airworthiness #10782 issued.

03-Feb-1965 Certificate of Registration #34332 issued to Atlas Aviation Ltd., Ottawa, ON.

22-Feb-1965 Bill of Sale; de Havilland Aircraft Company of Canada Ltd., to Atlas Aviation Ltd., Ottawa, ON.

• CF-RWU Atlas Aviation Ltd., Ottawa, ON. Based Resolute Bay, NT., on 3rd February 1965,

Accident: Browne Island, NT 79.49N/96.24W. 17th July 1971 The Otter departed from Resolute Bay en route to Rae Point on Melville Island. It crashed into a hill on Browne Island in foggy conditions, killing the pilot, Leroy Myers, the only occupant and wrecking the aircraft, which was badly burnt.

Time since new as recorded in Canadian Department of Transport archives.

07-Mar-1966 - 783 hours

10-Mar-1967 - 1,592 hours

20-Feb-1968 - 2,056 hours

15-Feb-1969 - 2,670 hours

05-Mar-1970 - 3,329 hours

25-Apr-1971 – 3,617 hours

• CF-RWU Cancelled from Canadian Civil Aircraft Register on 08-Nov-1971.

Note: Atlas became Kenting Atlas on 27-Jul-1972.

Note: Wreckage of c/n 455 sold by Kenting Atlas Aviation Ltd., to Harold Hansen, Seattle, WA by Bill of Sale 19-Dec-1973.

• N90758 James B. Hayton, Sedro Woolley,  WA. Regd Aug-1990 & 07-Nov-2012.

Status unknown - Presumed stored


Otter 455 was delivered to Atlas Aviation Ltd., of Resolute Bay, Northwest Territories on 3rd February 1965, registered CF-RWU. This was the company of a famous Arctic bush pilot Weldy Phipps. He had flown for Bradley Air Services, but in 1962 moved to Resolute Bay and formed his own company, Atlas Aviation. Resolute, the most northerly Canadian port where ships could dock in the Arctic shipping season, was a vital staging base for remoter sites like Mould Bay, Isachsen, Eureka and Alert, places which Atlas Aviation served.

Atlas Aviation's fleet comprised three Twin Otters, a Beaver and Otter RWU. The Otter was mostly used to support scientific exploration and oil exploration in the High Arctic, ferrying fuel (in barrels) and supplies out to the teams working in remote areas. The Otter suffered some damage at its base at Resolute Bay on 29th April 1970 when Pacific Western Airlines Hercules CF-PWN turned inclose proximity to the Atlas Aviation nose hangar, subjecting four Atlas aircraft to the full force of its propwash. The Otter's rudder buckled and had to be repaired. It also suffered damage to the left undercarriage shock strut attachment in June 1970 and was ferried from the north of Prince of Wales Island back to Resolute Bay for repairs.

An article in Flying magazine in March 1971 described a typical flight in the Atlas Otter, a two day trip of fuel-caching on Gardner Island, not far from the permanent polar pack-ice. “In those two days, we loaded, flew and unloaded ninety eight 55 gallon drums of turbine fuel, six per trip, for the use of an oil company's Hueys and Alouette helicopters out on the seismic testing lines, where the geologists were probing, blasting and measuring for oil. We fell asleep at night, bone-weary and bruised, in sleeping bags spread on spare bunks in little insulated trailers, amid a womanless, profanity-blue, gripe-ridden routine that must have been vaguely like a base camp in the Vietnamese highlands, punctuated by the whap-whap of rotor blades all day and night”.

 “The temperature went down to -39F and the barrels got heavier. Jasper (the pilot, Jasper Lafrance) pumped the Otter's skis down to land on the snow near the various caches and back up again to return to the base camp's bulldozed runway out on the Arctic Ocean ice so many times that he finally said the hell with it and left them extended. We heaved the barrels in, strapped them down, fired up and groaned off the ground so many times that a tired Lafrance once even found himself set up on approach for a cache of barrels out on the ice only to have them begin to gallop away - it was a small herd of musk oxen!”.

The article is an interesting description of the rigours of Otter flying in the High Arctic. Sadly, Otter CF-RWU did not last much longer. On 17th July 1971 the Otter departed from Resolute Bay en route to Rae Point on Melville Island. It crashed into a hill on Browne Island in foggy conditions, killing the pilot, the only occupant and wrecking the Otter, which was badly burnt. As the accident report concluded: “Continued VFR into adverse weather”. The wreckage was located at the base of a cliff, 26 miles from its departure point. It had impacted about forty feet below the top of the cliff and was extensively consumed by fire. Weather at departure was cloud 800 feet scattered, estimated ceiling 2,000 feet overcast, visibility 8 miles in light rain and fog. The weather forecast along the route of flight had been for overcast skies, occasional light rain showers, with areas of fog giving ceilings from 0 to 50 feet and visibility from 0 to 3 miles.

In January 1974 the wreckage of the Otter was sold to Harold J. Hansen of Seattle. Nothing more was heard of the Otter until August 1990, nineteen years after the crash, when the Otter appeared on the US Civil Aircraft Register as N90758, registered to James B. Hayton of Sedro Woolley, Washington, who had purchased the wreck from Harold Hansen. Mr Hayton's company is North Sound Aviation Inc, which specialises in the rebuild of aircraft such as Beavers and Otters. Not much survived of Otter 455, only a section of fuselage and some bits and pieces, which were still present in his yard ten years later. It was his intention that the Otter be rebuilt, using these pieces and parts from other crashed Otters. There is a value attached to ownership of an aircraft's certification plate, around which a rebuilt aircraft can be created. By 2004 however no progress had been made on the rebuild of Otter 455.

To be updated when current status is known.

Full history up to 2005 courtesy of Karl E Hayes from DHC-3 Otter - A History (CD-ROM 2005).