DHC-3 Otter Archive Master Index

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c/n 289

CF-LAP ready for anything.
Photo: Sheldon D. Benner © 21 September 1968 - Michael J. Ody Collection
C-FLAP on her regular gear, at Cooking Lake, Alberta.
Photo: John Kimberley © November 1974 - Karl E. Hayes Collection
C-FLAP at Cooking Lake, Alberta.
Photo: Martin Brooks © October 1988 - Karl E. Hayes Collection
C-FLAP in SALTSPRING AIR titles at Vancouver.
Photo: Lenn Bayliss © 12 August 2017
C-FLAP using flaps, at Victoria.
Photo: Gary Vincent © 16 August 2017
C-FLAP sunset descent at Vancouver's Coal Harbour.
C-FLAP earlier in the day.
Photos: Anton Heumann © October 2019

c/n 289




• CF-LAP McMurray Air Service Ltd, Uranium City, SK. Delivered 27-Feb-1959.

Incident: Cape Sperbo, Devon Island, NT. 06-Aug-1967. On take off from a gravel runway, the undercarriage collapsed caused by a fatigue fracture. The aircraft veered off the runway. Damage repaired and aircraft returned to service.

• CF-LAP Gateway Aviation Ltd., Edmonton, AB., took over McMurray Air Service in Oct-1989.

Incident: Redstone River, NT. Unknown date in 1970. Damaged on a gravel bar south of Norman Wells. It had run up on the gravel bar causing damage to the underside o the fuselage. Repaired and recovered by Denny McCartney. See story below.

• C-FLAP Nipawin Air Services Ltd., Nipawin, SK. Circa 1978.

• C-FLAP Great Shield Air Service, Prince Albert, SK. Circa. 1980. Canx circa 1981 after going into receivership.

• C-FLAP C & M Airways, Buffalo Narrows, SK. Circa 1981. (Poss. canx 27-May-1982 according to CCAR. .)

Accident: Two miles south-east of La Loche, SK. 01-Apr-1981. While climbing after take-off, the engine failed and the pilot elected to land straight ahead. The left wing contacted some small trees and the Otter landed heavily, collapsing the main gear. Repaired and continued in service.

• C-FLAP J. F. Midgett, La Loche, SK. Regd 10-Jan-1984. Canx 29-Jun-1989.

Accident: 03-Jul-1987. Springstein Lake, SK. The pilot was on a VFR flight to Weitzel Lake to deliver supplies. At an altitude of six hundred feet above the ground, the aircraft encountered deteriorating weather and the pilot descended to remain clear of cloud. As the descent continued, ice began to accumulate on the windshield and airframe, causing the airspeed to decrease. The pilot could not maintain altitude and the Otter descended into trees.

• C-FLAP Johnny May's Air Charter Ltée., Dorval, QC. Based Kuujjuaq, QC June 1989. Regd 18-Feb-1994 & 12-Aug-1998. Canx 22-Aug-2002.

• C-FLAP Johnny May's Air Charters (2002) Inc,. Les Nolisements Aériens Johnny May (2002) Inc., Kuujjuaq, QC. Re regd 18-Jun-2004. Canx 24-Jul-2006.

• C-FLAP Nordplus 1998 Ltée., QC. Based Schefferville, QC. Regd 24-Jul-2006. Canx 21-Jul-2007.

• C-FLAP Harbour Air Richmond, Vancouver, BC. Regd 19-Sep-2011. Saltspring Air livery. f/n 319.

• Current

Otter 289 was delivered to McMurray Air Service Ltd of Uranium City, Saskatchewan on 27th February 1959, registered CF-LAP. It was the company's second Otter, their first CF-JXR (202) having been delivered in May 1957.

In the spring of 1958 the Canadian government established the Polar Continental Shelf Project, a scientific study to gather data on the Arctic, with a view to exploiting its resources. McMurray Air Service was one of a number of airlines contracted to provide air support for the Project, and both its Otters took part. A base was established at Resolute Bay on Cornwallis Island, and on 14th March 1959 a Beaver and an Otter of McMurray A/S are recorded as arriving at Resolute, the Otter departing the next day for Isachsen in the High Arctic. There was much Otter activity that summer in Resolute, as on 8th May '59 a Wardair Otter and Bristol Freighter are recorded arriving in support of an oil exploration company, the Otter flying on to Bathurst Inlet.

The following year, the first aircraft to arrive at Resolute to support the Polar Continental Shelf Project, on 14th March 1960, were the two McMurray Otters LAP and JXR “who distinguished themselves by landing simultaneously in opposite directions”. Another Otter arriving the following day was an RCMP Otter from Grise Fjord. The two McMurray Otters were again at Resolute the following year, also flying from Isachsen, but sadly CF-JXR came to grief on 29th April 1961 when it made a forced landing on the sea ice and subsequently sank. Otter LAP was one of the aircraft involved in the search-and-rescue effort, flying 19 hours on that task.

McMurray Air Service replaced JXR with Otter CF-MES (421), which was delivered on 26th May 1961 and both LAP and MES continued to support the Continental Shelf Project for some years. LAP was still doing so when it was damaged at Cape Sperbo, Devon Island, Northwest Territories on 6th August 1967. The pilot was taking off from an undulating gravel runway one thousand feet long, bordered by a small lake. Toward the end of the take off roll, a loud noise was heard from beneath the Otter and the right wing dropped. The undercarriage collapsed, directional control was lost and the aircraft veered off the runway, coming to rest in shallow water. There had been a fatigue fracture of the main gear attachment bolt. The damage was repaired and LAP returned to service.

In October 1969 Gateway Aviation Ltd., of Edmonton, Alberta took over McMurray Air Service and its three Otters, LAP, MES and CF-ITS (90), which were registered to Gateway Aviation. This was after McMurray Air Service had lost the Continental Shelf Project work to Bradley Air Services. The following year, 1970, exact date unknown, LAP was damaged on a gravel bar in the Redstone River, in a very remote part of the Northwest Territories, south of Norman Wells. The incident is well described in Denny McCartney's book 'Picking Up The Pieces', as to how the Otter was retrieved with great difficulty. It had run up on the gravel bar causing damage to the underside of the floats. Mr McCartney, his helpers and equipment, were flown to the scene in a Northward Aviation Otter from Norman Wells.

The Redstone River was a fast flowing mountain stream, whose source was high in the McKenzie Mountains. “A nice landing was made on a stretch of smooth deep water a little upstream from the Otter that sat forlornly on the rocks just above the start of a stretch of fast white water”. They set up camp on the river shore and started the repairs, as the river became a raging torrent due to heavy rain. There followed a hazardous taxi down the rapids. Several times the Otter was nearly lost due to the treacherous conditions, but they eventually managed to take off and fly to Norman Wells, where further repairs were carried out. CF-LAP was then ferried to its base at Edmonton via Fort Norman and Fort Smith. It was later re-registered C-FLAP.

LAP continued in service with Gateway Aviation until sold to Nipawin Air Services Ltd., of Nipawin, Saskatchewan in 1978. In 1980 it went to Great Shield Air Service of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan and after that company went into receivership, the following year to C&M Airways of Buffalo Narrows, Saskatchewan. It was involved in an accident on 1st April 1981 two miles south-east of La Loche, SK. While climbing after take-off, the engine failed and the pilot elected to land straight ahead. The left wing contacted some small trees and the Otter landed heavily, collapsing the main gear. Investigation revealed that the impeller shaft had been bent due to restricted oil flow. The impeller began rubbing the rear case, causing the shaft to bend further, allowing the impeller to chew a portion of the case. Ingestion of metal caused eventual engine failure.

C-FLAP was returned to service after repairs and was still operated by C&M Airways when it was involved in another accident on 31st July 1987 at Springstein Lake, SK. The pilot was on a VFR flight from La Loche to Weitzel Lake to deliver supplies. At an altitude of six hundred feet above the ground, the aircraft encountered deteriorating weather and the pilot descended to remain clear of cloud. As the descent continued, ice began to accumulate on the windshield and airframe, causing the airspeed to decrease. The pilot could not maintain altitude and the Otter descended into trees. That accident ended LAP's career with C&M Airways.

After repair, the Otter was acquired by Johnny May's Air Charter Ltée., of Kuujjuaq, Québec to whom it was registered in June 1989. Another incident was recorded on 16th July 1995 ninety miles north-east of Kuujjuaq. After failure of a cylinder, the float-equipped Otter made a precautionary landing on a lake. There was no damage and the Otter was soon back in action. Another incident was recorded on 13th June 2000, still operated by Johnny May's Air Charter, landing on a frozen lake 140 miles north-east of Kuujjuaq. The pilot misjudged the landing and ran off the ice into three feet of water near the shore. There was no damage to the Otter, which continued in service with Johnny May's Air Charter.  On 18th June 2004 the Otter was re-registered to Johnny May's Air Charter (2002) Inc., following a re-structuring of the company, and continued in service based at Kuujjuaq.

LAP continued in service with Johnny May’s Air Charter based out of Kuujjuaq but during the early part of 2006 was advertised for sale, on EDO7170 floats, with canoe rack and with an airframe time of 21,613 hours. A buyer did not materialise but instead LAP was leased to Nordplus 1988 Ltee of Schefferville, Québec to whom it was registered on 24 July 2006. This company already operated Otter C-GFUT (404) and used both Otters during summer and autumn 2006 to fly fishermen and hunters to remote parts of northern Québec. Both Otters went into storage at St.Hyacinthe, Québec over the winter of 2006 / 2007. LAP flew again for Nordplus during the summer and autumn of 2007 and 2008, again stored at St.Hyacinthe during the winters. It still carried basic Air Inuit colour scheme but with Norpaq titles. Norpaq Adventures was the parent company of Nordplus 1988 Ltée., and owned and operated two outfitting companies – George River Lodge and Club Chateauguay. It had an agreement with the Naskapi Nation to share hunting territories north of Schefferville. Otters LAP and FUT flew the hunting guests north out of Schefferville each season.

The registration of LAP to Nordplus 1988 Ltée., was cancelled at the end of the 2008 season, on 14 October 2008, and the Otter was returned off lease to Johnny May’s Air Charter. It was however flown back to St.Hyacinthe where it was looked after by Ray Air Maintenance and after overhaul it was advertised for sale in May 2010. The advert gave its then total time as 22,227 hours and an asking price of $575,000 Canadian.  “Seller has spare R-1340 engine and prop. Negotiable with sale”. Johnny May did not operate LAP after it was returned off lease in October 2008, as they had converted their Otter C-FCEE (282) to a turbine, and it was the R-1340 engine from CEE that was advertised for sale along with LAP.

LAP was still in storage at St.Hyacinthe in January 2011 when it was sold to Harbour Air of Vancouver. It had not flown since October 2008. It was dismantled and trucked from St.Hyacinthe across the country to Vancouver. It arrived Vancouver early March 2011 and was noted under rebuild in the Aeroflite Industries hangar there during May 2011. It was converted to a Vazar turbine with the PT-6A engine during the rebuild and also received the panoramic window modification. It was repainted into Harbour Air’s white and yellow colour scheme. It was registered to Harbour Air on 19 September 2011, fleet number 319. It was noted in service with Harbour Air in January 2012, flying from the Vancouver seaplane base, part of Harbour Air’s large fleet of turbine Otters, engaged on its scheduled services to Vancouver Island.

It continued in service with Harbour Air in the years that followed and a number of incidents were recorded on CADORS:

17 June 2013.    C-FLAP on a flight from Vancouver to Victoria, departed the river but had a bird strike and returned to land. After being checked, no damage was found and it departed again for Victoria.

10 July 2013 at Victoria Harbour.  Otter N87KA (11) of Kenmore Air was in position for a westbound departure from Victoria and had a mechanical issue. The Otter taxied for the boat lane and returned to the dock. C-FLAP, from Vancouver Harbour inbound to Victoria Harbour elected to do a missed approach due to the delay caused by N87KA.

11 May 2015.  Otter LAP inbound to Victoria Harbour from Vancouver Harbour. Inbound over Elk Lake, requested an ambulance be called to the dock for its arrival due to a medical emergency on board. Requested a direct approach over West Bay. Landed and step taxied to the dock.

By May 2016 LAP had been re-painted into Harbour Air’s blue and white colour scheme but with Saltspring Air titles, this being a division of Harbour Air based at Ganges on Saltspring Island.

24 July 2016.  C-FMPN, a Morningstar EMB-505, departing from Victoria International Airport en route to Vancouver, climbed rapidly and had a traffic alert and TCAS radar advisory with Otter LAP which was en route from Vancouver Harbour to Victoria Harbour.

12 April 2017.   Skywest Embraer 170 N252SY on flight SKW4523 from Seattle-Tacoma to Vancouver was cleared descent to 2,000 feet and vectored for an ILS approach to runway 08 Left Vancouver. It was seen at 1,500 feet eight miles west of the airport. Otter LAP had departed Vancouver Harbour and was on a VFR southbound route at 1,000 feet. The Embraer passed in front of the Otter with 500 feet vertical separation.

During summer 2018 Otter C-FLAP remained in service with Harbour Air/Saltspring Air.

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.