DHC-3 Otter Archive Master Index

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c/n 159

55-3302 "7" at Blackbushe - EGLK, UK.
Photo: Robin A. Walker © 21 Sugust 1958 - Aird Archives
302 over over Kasai province, transporting ammo.
Photos: Lennart Sollenberg © 1961 - via Leif Hellström
302 at Albertville, with name "Polar" on nose.
Photo: William Appelquist © 1962 - via Leif Hellström
Photo: Torsten Bergenhag © c.1961-1962 - Karl E. Hayes Collection
Photo: Bengt Landervik © 1964 - via Leif Hellström
302 gets rolled into hangar at N'Djili airport, Leopoldville.
Photo: Gunnar Elg © June 1964 - Karl E. Hayes Collection
C-FUJM without titles, at Vancouver - CYVR, British Columbia.
Photo: Kenneth I. Swartz © 21 August 1978 - Aird Archives
C-FUJM at Vancouver South terminal.
Photo: John Kimberley © August 1978 - Karl E. Hayes Collection
C-FUJM of West Coast Air, on the river at YVR.
Photo: Phil Hansen © April 1979 - Karl E. Hayes Collection
C-FUJM high and dry, at Vancouver - CYVR.
Photo: Unknown photographer © 15 September 1979 - Kenneth I. Swartz Collection - Aird Archives
C-FUJM with AirBC titles at Port Hardy - CYZT.
Photo: Ab Gobets © 02 August 1983 - via Coert Munk - Aird Archives
C-FUJM of West Coast Air, doing an engine run at Vancouver South.
Photo: John Kimberley © December 1979 - Karl E. Hayes Collection
Photo:Gary Vincent © October 1995
C-FUJM of PACIFIC COASTAL, at Port Hardy - CYZT, British Columbia.
Photo: Fred Barnes © 16 June 1997 - Karl E. Hayes Collection
N959PA at Ketchikan, Alaska.
Photo: Helge Nyhus © September 2006 - Karl E. Hayes Collection
N959PA in later colours, flying from Ketchikan.
Photo: John W. Olafson © 02 July 2013
N959PA at the Taquan dock.
Photo: Anton Heumann © July 2018
N959PA just three days before tragedy.
Photo: Dirk Septer © 10 May 2019

c/n 159

55-3302 • 302 • N12665 • CF-UJM • N67KA



 55-3302 United States Army. Delivered 28-Sep1956. Designated as U-1A.

Initially attached to the 3rd Aviation Company at Fort Riley, KS.

Jul-1957. Unit deployed to Illesheim, Germany.

Nov 1959. Assigned to the 2nd Aviation Company, Poitiers AAF., France.

Jul-1960. Deployed using a Douglas C-124 Globemaster to the former Belgian Congo, to join an Army Task Force which was hurriedly formed to rescue US citizens, mostly missionaries, who were caught up in the fighting in the Congo.

• 402 United Nations Air Transport Force (UNATF), Light Aircraft Squadron (LAS), Leopoldville, early Aug-1960, given full UN markings.

• 302 renumbered 24-Aug-1960. Named "Polar" for a period. Used for liaison and light transport duties throughout the Congo. UNATF was renamed UN Air Division Oct-1961 and LAS became Support Squadron Feb-1962.

Sep-1963 Transferred to the Yemen, attached to 134th Air Transport Unit, manned by Royal Canadian Air Force personnel.

Note: Purchased by Frank Ferrer, Miami. FL.

• N12655 Philip Mann, Miami, FL. (An associate of Frank Ferrer) Oct-1965.

• CF-UJM Ben Ginter Construction Company, Prince George, BC. Circa Oct-1965.

Accident: Forbidden Plateau, BC. 24th September 1971. Engine failure, fatigue fracture; substantial damage.

Note: Remained stored at Vancouver.

• C-FUJM West Coast Air Services Ltd., Vancouver, BC. 26-Apr-1977.

• C-FUJM Reported as operated with Gulf Air, Campbell River, BC. Dates unknown.

• C-FUJM Jim Pattison Industries Ltd., Prince Rupert, BC. Regd date Apr-1980. Canx 09-Oct-1986 Initially operated by Airwest .

• C-FUJM Operated by Air BC Ltd., Richmond, BC. Regd Dec 1980.

• C-FUJM Jim Pattison Industries Ltd., Prince Rupert, BC Canx 09-Oct-1986.

• C-FUJM Air BC Ltd., Richmond, BC Regd 31-Dec-1987 Canx 06-Jan-1988 & 06-Sep-1989.

• C-FUJM Pacific Coastal Airlines Ltd., Richmond, BC. Based Port Hardy, BC. Regd 06-Sep-1989. Canx 20-Aug-1997.

• C-FUJM Glen Ernst, Temecula ,CA. Regd 04-Sep-1997. Canx 18-Nov-1997. On export to USA.

• N67KA Glen Ernst, Temecula,,CA.

Total time: 16,200 hours.

For sale at $350,000.

• N959PA Pantechnicon Aviation Ltd., Minden, NV.  Based Ketchikan, AK. Regd 25-Nov-1997.

Airworthiness Date: 05-Jan-1998.

Power plant. Converted to PT6A Vazar power.

• N959PA Leased to Pro Mech Air, Ketchikan, AK Regd Jan 01-Jan-2008. With Taquan Air since Summer 2018.

Accident: Mid air at 3,300' over Coon Cove, George Inlet, 8nm NE of Ketchikan. 13-May-2019. 1K. Descended onto N952DB (273) de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver, 5K. The Turbine Otter was being operated by Taquan Air.



Otter number 159 was delivered to the United States Army on 28th September 1956 with serial 55-3302 (tail number 53302). It first served with the 3rd Aviation Company at Fort Riley, Kansas and moved with the unit when it deployed to Germany in July 1957, establishing at Illesheim. The Otter was noted visiting Blackbushe Airport on 21 August 1958, coded "7", and Birmingham Airport, England on 1st September 1958. When the Company disbanded in November 1959, 53302 was assigned to the 2nd Aviation Company, based at Poitiers AAF., France.

In July 1960, 53302 was one of two Otters (the other was 53305) selected for deployment to the former Belgian Congo, to join an Army Task Force which was hurriedly formed to rescue US citizens, mostly missionaries, who were caught up in the fighting in the Congo. The two Otters were flown to Rhein-Main Air Base, Frankfurt, Germany where they were loaded into C-124 Globemasters of the USAF, and flown via Wheelus Air Base, Tripoli, Libya to Brazzaville. The Task Force also had four L- 20 Beavers and some Choctaw helicopters, all of which were used to rescue the missionaries from the bush and fly them to Brazzaville and Leopoldville, from where they were taken home by the USAF.

This task was completed in a few weeks, but by then the United Nations had become involved, and had formed its own Air Wing Support Squadron, based at Leopoldville. The US government agreed to transfer the aircraft it had sent to the Congo to the United Nations Air Wing, including the two Otters. They were painted all white with UN markings, and 53302 received the UN serial 302, which happened to be the 'last three' of its Army tail number. The other Army Otter 53305 became UN serial 301. The Royal Norwegian Air Force also transferred two of its Otters to the United Nations, which were flown from Oslo aboard USAF C-124s, and these took UN serials 303 and 304. The four UN Otters were flown and maintained by Swedish personnel attached to the United Nations. Subsequently, the UN itself purchased four more Otters from DHC, which were given serials 305 to 308 inclusive.

302 continued in use in the Congo until December 1964. It was mentioned in dispatches and its pilot, Lt. T. Glantz received great praise for a rescue operation in Kwilu Province in January 1964: “It is my pleasant duty and great honour to bring to your attention the outstanding bravery and conduct of Lt. Glantz, the pilot of the Otter aircraft. It was his task to carry out the close reconnaissance of each target area before the main helicopter force arrived, to locate the people to be rescued and to thus prepare the rescue force for all eventualities. Lt. Glantz carried out his task not only with brilliant skill and determination, but also with courage. His devotion to duty, his fearlessness under heavy fire and his resourcefulness were the principal reasons for the success of the operation”.

“Over Kilembe, where his task was to locate the missionaries and reconnoiter the area, his Otter (302) came under extremely heavy and accurate fire from rifles and an automatic weapon. Glantz was nevertheless quick to realise that his duty was to keep the terrorists busy and prevent them from going to the actual mission area some 400 metres away where the helicopters would be arriving. For ten minutes until the helicopters arrived at the mission and then for a further ten minutes while they carried out their work, Glantz kept flying over the terrorists at tree top level, drawing their attention and fire away from the mission and the helicopters. The Otter was hit 25 times and the fuel tank twice. Despite the heavy gun fire and the fact that gasoline fumes filled the aircraft, Lt. Glantz repeated his low flights until the helicopters completed their task”.

Otter 302, together with 305 and 308, was operated in the Congo from 1st July to 30th December 1964 in support of the civilian assistance programme of the UN, being operated during this period by Transair Sweden under contract to the UN. This programme was terminated in December 1964 and these three Otters were then put up for sale by the UN. Two of them, 302 and 305, were purchased by Frank Ferrer of Miami, who was actively dealing in Otters and returning them home to Canada from abroad (as described in relation to Otter number 2). The two Otters were registered to Mr. Philip Mann of Miami, an associate of Frank Ferrer, 302 becoming N12665 in October 1965 and 305 becoming N12533. The two Otters were flown across the South Atlantic to South America and on to Miami. They were then advertised for sale and N12665 was sold in April 1966 to Ben Ginter Construction Company of Prince George, BC., registered CF-UJM.

Ben Ginter, originally from Poland, had emigrated to Canada and settled in Prince George, BC. He formed a construction company and became a very successful businessman. He acquired the site of a brewery to store his construction equipment and then decided to re-open the brewery. By 1965 he had built up a multi-million dollar construction and brewing business (Uncle Ben’s Beer) and acquired the Otter to service his many business interests. Registration CF-UJM was allocated on 15 April 1966 and a ferry permit issued for a ferry flight from Miami via Calgary to Prince George. On arrival the Otter was inspected and had 3,823 hours on the airframe. It was officially registered on 20 September 1966 to Ben Ginter Construction Co., Ltd., Prince George, BC. It flew for Ben Ginter for the next few years, mostly around BC. When its C.of A. was renewed on 23 August 1969 it was based at Smithers and had 4,789 airframe hours. By C.of A.renewal on 23 April 1971 it was back based at Prince George and its total time had increased to 5,047 hours.

Ben Ginter had a company called Imperial Airways Ltd., (an associated company of Ben Ginter Construction Company) and he arranged for Imperial Airways Ltd., to make a lease of the Otter to Trans Mountain Air Services Ltd .,of Campbell River, BC on Vancouver Island. This company operated the Otter commercially, even though it was only licensed as a private aircraft. The Otter was flying for Trans Mountain Air Services when it met with an accident on 24 September 1971, which was to put an end to its flying career for a few years.

The Otter, flown by pilot Bob Early and with one passenger on board, had taken off from Mackenzie Lake near Mount Washington on Vancouver Island to return to Campbell River. While climbing to 3,800 feet to clear a ridge the engine began to run rough and lose power and there was smoke in the cockpit. The pilot had to make a forced landing on a logging road, coming down five miles from Mackenzie Lake on Forbidden Plateau. As Bob Early later described: “Campbell River was only twenty minutes away. Another few miles and I would have been clear of the mountains. As I came down there was one tree I knew I had to hit to make the logging road. I remembered what my instructor had told me for such circumstances – hit as near the tree as possible as if the wing catches the tree the aircraft will cartwheel. So I nailed this thing right on the nose of the float, busted the tree right off and then it was only another 200 feet to the road. The floats were pushed into the fuselage on hitting the road and one wingtip hit a bank of earth. We got out quickly fearing a fire but there was none. I used the radio to call Campbell River and they sent a Cessna 185. The Rescue people came as well even though we didn’t need them”.

The Otter remained grounded for the next four and three quarter years, as litigation wound its way through the courts as to who was responsible for paying for the repairs, not helped by the fact that at that stage Ben Ginter’s business empire had encountered financial difficulties and collapsed. By Bill of Sale dated 25 March 1975 Ben Ginter Construction Co., Ltd., transferred title of the Otter to Imperial Airways Ltd., who the following day transferred title to Stanley G. Southgate, who was the liquidator of the Ben Ginter business empire. The wreck of the Otter was trucked to Edmonton, where its rebuild commenced. This had been completed by 6 April 1976 when C-FUJM received back its Certificate of Airworthiness, total time on that date 5,185 hours. On 8 June 1976 a ferry permit was issued for the Otter from Edmonton to Vancouver.

At Edmonton the Otter had been painted into an intricate blue, orange and brown colour scheme and it had been intended to lease the Otter to Tyee Airways for the summer of 1976. That lease however did not take place and the Otter remained parked at Vancouver all that summer, tied down in outside storage, on amphibious floats. It was registered to the liquidator, Stanley Southgate on 18 October 1976 and Ben Ginter’s involvement with the Otter came to an end on 10 January 1977 when by Bill of Sale of that date the liquidator sold C-FUJM to West Coast Air Services Ltd, who were registered as owners on 14 January 1977.

West Coast Air Services Ltd was a Vancouver-based airline with a fleet of Beavers and Twin Otters, serving the BC Pacific Coast. In fact, for the next twenty years Otter UJM was to serve the Pacific Coast with a number of operators, becoming one of the Coast’s longest-serving aircraft as it flew between the many logging camps and coastal communities. It was West Coast Air Services only Otter and was flown on amphibious floats. Originally it was operated in the exotic colour scheme into which it had been painted during its rebuild but during 1979 it received a new scheme, white overall with a double red cheatline. It was a hard working Otter and by its C. of A. renewal on 18 April 1980 its total time had increased to 7,232 hours.

UJM continued to fly for West Coast Air Services based out of Vancouver until it was leased to Airwest Airlines Ltd., on 20 April 1980, being registered to Airwest on 2 May 1980 and moving base to Campbell River. This was a short-term two month lease and when it came to an end on 24 June 1980 the Otter was leased by West Coast Air Services to Gulf Air Aviation Ltd., also based at Campbell River, to whom the Otter was registered on 21 July 1980. Interestingly this was the same company, formerly known as Trans Mountain Air Services, which had operated UJM when it crashed in September 1971.  UJM commenced flying for Gulf Air from Campbell River, alongside its other Otters XUY (142), QRI (326) and LCP (422), serving the logging and coastal communities of Vancouver Island and the BC Pacific Coast.

It was around this time that the Jim Pattison Group was buying up local airlines with a view to creating Air BC as one large carrier. Gulf Air Aviation was one of the companies purchased, with its name disappearing and its business and aircraft becoming part of Air BC. Otter C-FUJM was registered to Air BC Ltd on 27 January 1981. It still retained its West Coast Air Services colour scheme of white overall with double red cheatline but was given Air BC titles. It moved base from Campbell River to Port Hardy at the north end of Vancouver Island. It would remain based here for a few years and on 22 April 1983 when its C. of A. was renewed, it was still based at Port Hardy and its total time had increased to 9,274 hours.

Whereas the mainline Air BC became a strong and successful carrier, the attempt to merge the many small floatplane operators along the coast did not achieve the same success and by 1983 the Pattison Group was struggling somewhat with this aspect of its operations. On 18 May 1983 the registration of the Otter to Air BC was cancelled and it was registered that day to Jim Pattison Industries Ltd., although it remained based at Port Hardy and flown by Air BC. On 18 July 1984 the Otter was leased by Jim Pattison Industries to Trans Provincial Airlines of Terrace, BC. This was another airline which the Pattison Group had purchased but which had continued to operate under its own name and not as part of Air BC.  UJM remained based at Port Hardy.

UJM continued to fly for Trans Provincial Airlines (a subsidiary of Air BC) until another major re-organisation took place with effect from 31 December 1987. Trans Provincial Airlines was bought out by its management, again becoming an independent company, no longer part of Air BC. What had been the Port Hardy division of Air BC merged with Powell Air to become Pacific Coastal Airlines Ltd., and by Bill of Sale 31 December 1987 Otter UJM was transferred to Pacific Coastal Airlines and was painted into the company’s attractive colour scheme. It continued to fly from the Port Hardy base and would go on to serve with Pacific Coastal Airlines for the next nine and a half years. If ever there was a quintessential BC Pacific Coast Otter it was UJM, its career reflecting service with many of the most important independent operators along the Coast, and then tracking the attempted amalgamation of these carriers into Air BC, and back to an independent operation with Pacific Coastal Airlines. It was a hard working Otter and by September 1996 its total airframe time had risen to 16,249 hours. It was Pacific Coastal’s only Otter.

UJM’s many years of service along the BC coast came to an end when by Bill of Sale dated 22 July 1997 Pacific Coastal Airlines sold the Otter to Glen W. Ernst of Temecula, California, an aircraft broker who has dealt with many Beavers and Otters over the years. He became registered as owner of UJM on 4 September 1997 and the following month advertised the Otter for sale in Aero Trader magazine. It was advertised as having circa 16,200 hours total time, eleven passenger seats, a cargo door, three thousand pounds useful load. It was “ready to go” and had an asking price of $350,000. The buyer was Pantechnicon Aviation Inc., of Minden, Nevada, a leasing company. This was one of three Otters it was acquiring around this time, to be converted to turbine for lease to Pro Mech Air of Ketchikan, Alaska. By Bill of Sale 17 November 1997 Mr Ernst transferred title to Pantechnicon Aviation. The Canadian registration was cancelled the following day and the Otter registered to Pantechnicon Aviation Inc that day as N67KA. A week later, on 25 November 1997, the registration was changed to N959PA.

Over the winter of 1997 / 1998 the Otter was converted to a Vazar DHC-3T with the installation of a PT-6A engine at Aeroflite Industries hangar at the Vancouver International Airport and painted into Pro Mech Air’s green and white colour scheme. It was then flown north to its new base at Ketchikan, Alaska and went on lease to Pro Mech Air from 1 April 1998, as one of three turbine Otters leased from Pantechnicon Aviation. The main business of the Pro Mech Otters was to fly passengers from the cruise ships which put into Ketchikan each summer on local sight-seeing flights, but also for general charter work and on the company’s scheduled services to outlying communities. As with the other two Otters, this was a long-term lease and the Otter continued flying for Pro Mech Air in the years that followed. It underwent a major overhaul by Sealand Aviation at Campbell River over the winter of 2008/09 before returning to Ketchikan.

The use of the Otter by Pro Mech Air continued until April 2016, when the owner of the company sold the Ketchikan assets of Pro Mech Air to Taquan Air, also based at Ketchikan. Pro Mech Air was closed down, and Taquan Air took over its operations out of Ketchikan, including the leases of turbine Otters N959PA (159) and N409PA (409) from Pantechnicon Aviation. Thereafter these Otters flew as part of the Taquan Air fleet, with effect from 1 April 2016. Taquan Air then had a fleet of twelve Beavers and three Otters. Taquan also took over Pro Mech’s Peninsula Point hangar and its passenger facilities on the Ketchikan waterfront and also took over its contracts for Misty Fjords Flightseeing, Neets Bay, Bear Viewing and the Misty Fjords Cruise and Flight tours. A Taquan Air spokesman said: “We’re going to have some Otters in the fleet now, which can do things that some of our Beavers cannot. So if we need larger aircraft in the wintertime, we’ll have access to that, or hauling freight or mail and things like that, but as far as the service we provide, we’re still going to be providing the same service”.

During summer 2018 Otter N959PA continued in service with Taquan Air, part of its large Otter and Beaver fleet.

N959PA continued in service with Taquan Air until a terrible crash which occurred on Monday 13 May 2019. On that day the “Royal Princess” cruise ship was docked in Ketchikan in the course of a seven day “Voyage of the Glaciers” from Vancouver to Anchorage and return. Sight-seeing flights were being provided for the passengers by the Ketchikan based floatplanes, including Taquan Air Turbo Otter N959PA and Mountain Air Service DHC-2 Beaver N952DB. Both aircraft were in flight at the same time over the Misty Fjords National Park, the Beaver with a pilot and four passengers from the ship and the Otter with a pilot and ten passengers from the ship.

Towards the conclusion of the sight-seeing flights both aircraft were inbound back to Ketchikan on a converging course, the Beaver level at 3,300 feet and the Otter descending from 3,700 feet. The two aircraft collided at 12:21 local time over George Inlet, seven miles north-east of Ketchikan. It appears from newspaper reports and the preliminary NTSB report, that the Otter came down on top of the Beaver, severing its wing. This caused the Beaver to spiral down out of control and it crashed on a steep rocky shoreline. It ended up partially submerged upside down near where Mahony Lake flows into the Inlet’s west side. All five aboard the Beaver sadly perished. The Otter, whose floats had been severely damaged in the impact, came down about a mile away on the other side of the Inlet, managing to alight on the water before sinking. One passenger on board the Otter died in the crash.

The US Coast Guard immediately launched two patrol boats from its Ketchikan base and an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter from the Sitka Air Station. The ten survivors on the Otter were rescued by a passing boat, the “Saint Innocent” and taken to hospital in Ketchikan. Three of the ten were in a serious condition and one in a critical state. The wrecks of both aircraft were subsequently retrieved by a barge and brought to Ketchikan for investigation. 

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. Updated 2022.