9 – C-FBSF


Serial Number






Year of Manufacture





 Chicoutimi, Quebec




 Air Saguenay (1980) Inc


 Chicoutimi, Quebec

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Otter number 9 was delivered to the RCAF on 31st March 1953 with serial 3663. Prior to departure from Downsview it had carried an AB code for DHC publicity purposes. It was first assigned to 408 Squadron at Rockcliffe, coded MN 663. On the day of its delivery it flew directly from Downsview to Rockcliffe and is recorded in the squadron history as the first Otter to be delivered to the unit. During the first few months of its military service it was engaged on pilot training flights out of Rockcliffe, and water training at Golden Lake. One of its first operational missions was a flight on 30th May '53 from Rockcliffe to Lac La Tortue, Quebec supporting Canso 11042 which was engaged on SHORAN installation, which were the beacons used by the squadron's Lancasters on their survey  flights.

Over the years that followed, 3663 continued to serve with 408 Squadron. During 1955 it was heavily involved in support of the Mid Canada Line (MCL) construction in the eastern sector. On 1st April '55, three ski-equipped RCAF Dakotas (KN200, KN256 and KN261) departed from Rockcliffe as did 3663, also ski-equipped, and all four aircraft flew north to Knob Lake, Schefferville, Quebec on operation “Rocktop 2”. The job of the Dakotas was to support the civilian companies working on the MCL-East. The primary purpose of the Otter was to test ice and snow conditions just prior to the time that the Dakotas landed at the sites. Using Knob Lake as a base, all radar sites east of Knob Lake and all sites within 300nm to the west were supplied with necessary equipment. Otter 3663 then returned to Rockcliffe.

On 8th June 1955 3663 (in company with 3687) departed again from Rockcliffe and returned to Knob Lake, to provide support for the helicopters of 108 Communications Flight on construction work on the radar sites. During June the Otter flew to the sites east of Knob Lake. During July it worked to the west, flying to such sites as Whale River, Moosonee, Winisk and Spruce Lake. 3663 spent twelve days unserviceable at Site 209 with damaged floats. At the end of July '55, the Otter returned to base at Rockcliffe. It then deployed to Cochrane, Ontario for fire fighting duties, before again returning to Rockcliffe where it remained for the rest of the year. In January 1956 it had an All Up Weight increase modification incorporated by DHC. That summer it again worked out of Knob Lake, supporting 108 Communications Flight on the MCL. It again spent the winter of 1956/57 at its Rockcliffe base and in June 1957, as 408 Squadron retired its Otters, 3663 was flown first to DHC at Downsview and then into storage with No.6 Repair Depot at Trenton in August '57.

In June 1958 it was returned to active service, with Air Material Command at Rockcliffe, moving on in May 1959 to 102 Communications Flight at Trenton. Here it served in both the communications and rescue roles, one of the searches it was involved with being for Beech 18 CF-ALL which crashed on a flight Val d'Or-Opemisca-Rouyn in Quebec on 4th December '59. It remained based at Trenton until July 1963 when it flew north, joining the Goose Bay Station Flight for the summer, before again being handed over to No.6 Repair Depot at Dunnville storage depot, located near Lake Erie in south west Ontario. On 1st November '63 the Otter was assigned to the CEPE at Rockcliffe and was deployed to Churchill, Manitoba. It is recorded as departing Churchill on 20th January '64 to investigate the sighting by Cessna N2823A of two men and a dog team with an 'SOS' tramped out in the snow near Knife Lake. The Otter returned to Churchill carrying the two trappers and their dogs. It was involved in a minor incident at Churchill on 24th February '64 when a bracket was fractured. It was returned to the care of No.6 Repair Depot on 3rd April '64, before being posted back to Goose Bay on 21st April '64.

On 3rd November 1965 the Otter joined 400 Squadron at Downsview, but returned to Goose Bay on 20th June 1966, having been fitted with floats, to serve there with the Station Flight for the summer. It thus had the honour of being the last Otter to serve with the Goose Bay Station Flight, although Otters from other units continued to deploy to Goose each summer until the type was withdrawn from Canadian military service. Finally, on 25th January 1967, Otter 3663 made the final move of its military career, from Goose Bay to join 438 Squadron at St.Hubert, Montreal. Having moved around between units considerably during the 1957 to 1967 period, 3663 was to remain based at St.Hubert with 438 Squadron for the next 15 years. During 1981, six Otters (including 3663) were withdrawn from service at St.Hubert and flown to the Mountain View Storage Depot, Ontario where they were turned over to the Crown Assets Disposal Corporation (CADC) for sale.

Another six Otters had been withdrawn from the Reserve squadrons at Downsview, and all twelve were advertised for sale in February 1982 by the CADC, “as is” at the Mountain View Storage Depot. 3663 at that stage had total airframe time of 9,231.2 hours.

3663 was one of seven ex Canadian military Otters purchased by Newcal Aviation Inc of Little Ferry, New Jersey a company which specialises in the supply of parts for DHC aircraft. The Otter was registered to Newcal Aviation on 14th June 1982 as N3125G and along with the other Otters purchased, was flown from the Mountain View depot to a small strip at Decatur, Texas where the Otters were put into storage pending sale-on. The seven Otters were tied-down in the open on the airfield. It would appear that the market for Otters was somewhat slow during the 1980s, as N3125G was to languish under the Texan sun for six years, until sold to Air Saguenay (1980) Inc of Chicoutimi, Quebec, to whom it was registered as C-FBSF on 20th June 1988. For the next four years it served the bush country of Quebec, until it came to grief on 21st August 1992.

That day, C-FBSF departed Squaw Lake, Schefferville, Quebec on a VFR flight plan bound for Lac Bergere. Weather conditions were marginal and the pilot tried to sneak through mountainous terrain by flying through a valley. Unfortunately however he found himself in a dead end and the aircraft impacted the side of a mountain at the 2,400 foot level, fifty miles north-east of Schefferville.

The Otter was destroyed by the post-impact fire, although miraculously the pilot and his six passengers survived with minor injuries.

History courtesy of Karl E Hayes from DHC-3 Otter: A History (2005)