DHC-3 Otter Archive Master Index

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX   click on arrows to navigate page by page

c/n 221

N50KA at Kenmore Air base, Kenmore, Washington.
Photo: Unknown photographer © 13 September 1995 - Klarl E. Hayes Collection
N50KA at Victoria Harbour, British Columbia.
Photo: Rich Hulina © October 1998 - Karl E. Hayes Collection
N50KA at Lake Union, Seattle.
Photos: Kenneth I. Swartz © 26 August 2006
N50KA special K5 livery, at Kenmore base.
Photo: Kenneth I. Swartz © 28 August 2007
N50KA plying her trade.
Photo: Lary Cullimore © 15 September 2012
N50KA with revised, simplified livery.
Photo: Kenneth I. Swartz © 11 August 2015
N50KA heads out from the Tyee Spit, Campbell River, British Columbia.
Photos: Rod Hall © 28 August 2016
N50KA still wearing her Evening dress.
Photos: Nigel Hitchman © 26 August 2017
N50KA approaching the dock.
Photo: Ron Kosys © 10 March 2019

c/n 221




• IM-1720 Indian Air Force. Delivered 04-Feb-1958. withdrawn from inventory on 31-Mar-1991.

Total time: 6,174 hours.

• Un regd Mike Hackman Aircraft Sales / La Ronge Aviation.

• N50KA Kenmore Air Harbor Inc., Kenmore, WA. Regd 11-May-1995.

Note; Rebuilt and converted to Turbine power with a PT-6A engine by Kenmore.

Airworthiness date: 12-Jul-1995.


Otter 221 was delivered to the Indian Air Force on 4 February 1958 with serial IM-1720. After test flying at Downsview, it was packed into a crate and shipped to India where it was re-assembled and entered service. The Indian Air Force continued to fly the Otter until the type was formally withdrawn from the inventory on 31 March 1991 and the surviving aircraft were offered for sale. IM-1720 had been noted serving with 41 Squadron at Palam during the years 1976 to 1980. Other details of its Air Force service are unknown but it had accumulated 6,174 hours total time when withdrawn from service.

The successful bidders for the Indian Otters were Mike Hackman Aircraft Sales / La Ronge Aviation, who travelled to India to prepare the Otters to be shipped back to Canada. IM-1720 was located at Barrackpore Air Base and was one of eight Otters shipped from Calcutta, which arrived at Saskatoon on 30 April 1994. This Otter, and two more of the former Indian aircraft, numbers 11 and 37, were sold to Kenmore Air Harbor Inc of Seattle and were trucked from Saskatoon to Kenmore’s base at Kenmore on the northern end of Lake Washington in Seattle, where they were rebuilt, and during the re-building converted to turbine power. They became Vazar Otter conversions with the installation of PT-6 engines. Otter 221 was registered to Kenmore Air Harbor Inc in May 1995 as N50KA and painted in Kenmore’s smart yellow and white colour and joined the company’s fleet of Otters.

Kenmore’s scheduled and charter services encompass the Puget Sound and destinations on Vancouver Island. As well as flying these services for many years, N50KA has also ventured much further afield. In November 1998 the Otter was chartered by Air Serv International to fly humanitarian flights on behalf of Mission Aviation Fellowship in Honduras, which had just been devastated by “Hurricane Mitch”. For this mission the Otter was flown by Rich Herman, who took time from his job of flying piston Otters for Aeronautical Services around the San Juan Islands off the Washington coast.

N50KA’s first flight on this mission was the short hop from its Kenmore base to Seattle’s Renton Airport, landing on the lake. Here its floats were taken off and it was put on wheels. It then set off for Redland, California-Tucson, Arizona-Chihuahua-Monterey-Villa Hermosa (all in Mexico)-San Pedro Sula-Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras, where it was to be based. It flew from there each day during December 1998 to Sotto Cano Air Base, where relief supplies were being flown in by the USAF and civilian aircraft chartered by international aid agencies. It uplifted a ton of foodstuffs per trip (rice, beans etc) and medicines and flew into dirt strips at small villages such as Aguacate, Ahuas, Moc, Koko, Puerto Lempira, Wampu and El Carbon along the “Mosquito Coast” (La Mosquitia). It certainly was a very different tasking to the Otter’s normal job of flying commuters around Seattle! N50KA flew 117 hours on this mission (not including the ferry flights), flew 16,812 miles (including the ferry flights) and delivered 65,000 pounds of relief supplies. It then re-traced its steps back to Seattle and re-entered service with Kenmore Air Harbor in February 1999.

For the winter of 2000 / 2001 the Otter, together with sister ship N87KA (11), were chartered to Island Seaplanes of Nassau in the Bahamas. The two Otters were put on EDO amphibious floats and departed Kenmore in November 2000 for the six month lease, during which they were flown by Kenmore pilots. The ferry flight time was 27 hours, with stops at Twin Falls, Idaho-Mesquite, Arizona-El Paso, Texas-Louisiana-Mobile, Alabama-Tallahassee, Florida-Fort Lauderdale-Nassau. As the Island Seaplanes website proclaimed:  “Our seaplanes make getting around the Bahamas a breeze. Equipped with amphibious floats we can pick up and deliver from land and sea. Charter connections between airports, yacht harbours, lodges and pristine beaches are all easily made with our nine passenger turbo Otters, leased from Kenmore Air of Seattle, a respected giant in the seaplane world. Kenmore converted the original, lumbering piston-powered version into the more reliable and quieter turbo-prop edition. In Nassau our base of operations is at Million Air, a first-class corporate flight centre at Nassau International Airport”. As well as the charters, the company also operated scheduled Out Island day excursions, to such points as Exumas and Harbour Island. The two Otters returned Seatle in May 2001 and re-entered service with Kenmore Air.

N50KA was noted at Kenmore Air Harbor in May 2005 under rebuild, and it received the scenic windows conversion. For summer 2005 it was painted in ‘logo’ colour scheme of K5 Radio Station, Seattle, with K5 on the tail and a large “Evening” on the rear fuselage. It was named Maggie II. It was to continue to fly in that scheme for many years.  It featured in a few Cadors reports. On 23 August 2005 at Victoria, BC, one of the destinations of the Kenmore scheduled service, it entered the Victoria control zone from the south, circled to the west and departed to the south, all without contact with the Victoria Tower. The Otter had been on a discrete course assigned by Victoria Harbour FSS. On 21 April 2006, again at Victoria, there was “an ATC operating irregularity”. Helijet Airways S-76A helicopter on flight JBA 713 was inbound for a landing at Victoria Harbour (Camel point). N50KA was in position for a southbound departure. JBA 713 was passed as traffic to the Otter. However JBA 713 was not passed updated traffic with respect to N50KA. On 11 August 2011 N50KA was on a VFR flight Nanaimo Harbour to Kenmore. It was observed entering Tower controlled airspace of the Victoria international Airport at 2,000 feet and had no contact with ATC. It was observed descending to 1,000 feet in the twenty miles of controlled airspace the Otter flew through.

As at summer 2017 N50KA was still an active member of Kenmore’s turbine Otter fleet, now in its 22nd year of service with the company, and still in the K5 logo colour scheme.

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.