19 - C-FEYY


Serial Number






Year of Manufacture









 Air Wilga Inc       


Box 74014, Laval, Quebec,H7A 4A2

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 Delivered to Miron Freres 21/9/54 as CF-EYY

Otter number 19 was delivered on 21st September 1954 as CF-EYY to Miron et Freres Ltee of
Montreal, a construction company. It was delivered on floats and based at St.Augustin near Montreal, being used to move construction crews in the bush country of Quebec. The company also operated a C-47 and a Canso. By 1957 'EYY had joined the fleet of Wheeler Airlines of St.Jovite, Quebec. As well as using their fleet of Otters to support the northern DEW Line sites (as described in relation to Otter number 2), Wheeler also had Otters flying from its St.Jovite base to service the Quebec interior. The scene of operations at St.Jovite was Lac Ouimet, one of the many lakes in the Mont Tremblant Provincial Park region of the Laurentian Mountains, an area well known to sportsmen for its excellent hunting and fishing.

Here was located a 3,000 foot airstrip with hangarage and airport facilities, a seaplane dock and the Lac Ouimet Club, s sporting and recreational resort which functioned as the main base for Wheeler's network of fishing and hunting camps served by aircraft.

CF-EYY was based here, serving the Quebec bush. Hunting and fishing trips (to as far away as James Bay, where goose hunting camps were located), fire patrols, survey and exploration work, sightseeing flights and general charter work formed the major part of the company's day to day operations for the Otter, as well as the company's Beavers and Norsemen. The Otter was used for the larger parties, but was also prized by hunters as a moose could be accommodated within its cabin.

In January 1960 EYY went to Austin Airways Ltd of Timmins, Ontario, on lease from Ray McLeod of Montreal. It then served the bush regions of Ontario, just as it had done before in Quebec. It returned to Quebec when acquired by A.Fecteau Transport Aerien of Senneterre and by 1970 had joined the fleet of another Quebec operator, Northern Wings Ltd (Les Ailes du Nord) based at Sept Iles. This company was the main operator serving the small communities along the North Shore of the Gulf of St.Lawrence. A subsidiary of Quebecair, it included Otters in its fleet throughout the 1960s/1970s, alongside DC-3s, Cansos, Beavers, Cessnas etc. Scheduled passenger and cargo services linked Havre St.Pierre, Natashquan, Kegaska, Gethsemanie, Harrington Harbour, La Tabitiere, Old Fort Bay, St.Paul, Blanc Sablon, Whalehead, St.Augustin, Riviere au Tonnere, Mingan and the base at Sept Iles. The Otters were also used on charters.

On 17th July 1974 EYY on floats suffered a hard landing at La Romaine, Quebec due to the pilot's delay in initiating a go-around. By 1979, then registered C-FEYY, the Otter was again operated by Air Fecteau, which became part of Propair Inc, to whom the Otter was registered in May 1982. On 12th October '82 it was damaged at Lixi Pond, Newfoundland. During the landing, the right float struck a submerged rock. The right float then failed and rolled outboard to be under the wing. Stress corrosion was found in the strut. A Service Bulletin by DHC had recommended inspection of the struts every twelve months, but over four years had elapsed since EYY had been inspected. The damage was repaired and the Otter returned to service.

Over the following years, EYY continued to serve the Quebec bush country with Propair, until
June 1988 when it was sold to Alexandair Inc of Sept Iles, one of a number of Quebec carriers to fly the aircraft. On 27th February 1991 at Chevery, Quebec the pilot lost control on take off, the Otter leaving the runway and striking a fence, causing quite an amount of damage. The Otter lay at Chevery in its damaged condition for some months, while negotiations took place on its future. An agreement was eventually reached with Air Wilga Inc of Laval, Quebec to purchase turbine Otter CF-JFJ (147) and Air Wilga took the damaged Otter EYY in part payment. EYY was registered to Air Wilga in June 1991 and was loaded on a boat and taken to Rimouski and then towed behind a jeep to the Air Wilga base at Laval St.Francois airfield outside Montreal, where it was rebuilt. Air Wilga was a leasing company which specialised in leasing out Otters to operators. EYY was leased to Aviation Boreal (1988) Inc of Val d'Or, Quebec in November 1991 and the following month, on 12th December '91 it was damaged again at Lac Mollet in northern Quebec when it hit a snowbank on take-off from the frozen lake, damaging the landing gear.

The Otter was repaired again during the winter of 1991/92 and was then leased by Air Wilga to a number of Quebec operators, Air Wemindji of Wemindji to whom it was registered in December 1992 and then Aero Golfe Ltee of Havre St.Pierre to whom it was registered in May 1994. In February 1998 it returned to Air Wilga, for conversion as the prototype Orenda-engined Otter and work commenced on the aircraft at Laval St.Francois airfield. Air Wilga commissioned Airtech Canada Aircraft Services of Peterborough, Ontario to carry out the engineering for the project and for this purpose EYY was trucked from Laval to Peterborough. The Orenda OE-600A engine was fitted to CF-EYY at Peterborough and the Otter made its first flight from there with the new engine on 9th November 1998, after which test flying for the certification process commenced.

In the course of the certification, it transpired that the McAuley propeller had not been certified for use with the Orenda engine. Accordingly, in March 1999 Otter EYY was flown to Dayton, Ohio where McAuley carried out this certification. As the aircraft had to be tested with wind coming from different angles and as a particularly calm period of weather was being experienced in Dayton at that time, an ATR-42 airliner had to be used to provide wind blown at the Otter on the ramp at Dayton, to provide the required test data. EYY then returned to Peterborough.

There were a number of mishaps during the testing phase, the first of these on 5th April 1999 at Smith Falls - Montague (Russ Beach) Ontario. The Otter was loaded to maximum gross weight, with the C.of G. at the aft limit. While conducting the flutter and vibration portion of the test flight, the pilot placed the Otter in a dive from 7,000 feet, increasing the aircraft speed by 10 mph increments, with the intention of attaining a speed of 213 mph. At 205 mph the control column produced a sharp, longitudinal control buzz for a period of six seconds. Engine power was reduced and the aircraft was levelled from the dive. Flight control checks were carried out and after determining that the aircraft was responding to control inputs, the pilot returned and landed at the Smith Falls airport. Ground inspection revealed that the left elevator servo tab had separated from the aircraft in flight, which tore
away the elevator trailing edge skin for the full length of the servo tab.

Another much more serious incident occurred on 13th June 1999 at Riviere des Prairies, Montreal still in the course of the test programme for the new engine. The Otter on floats was being taxied to the service dock when flames were noticed coming out of the cowl flap in front of the windshield. The engine was shut down and secured. The pilot discharged the portable extinguisher into the opening.

It took a few minutes to get the crew to the shore and to use the other extinguisher to fight the fire. The City firemen showed up some nine minutes later. The aircraft sustained damage forward of the firewall, at the rear of the engine installation, as a result of a broken fuel fitting. The damage was repaired and EYY returned to the flying test programme on 13th September '99. The Orenda engine was ultimately certified by Transport Canada on 17th January 2000.

With their first Orenda-engined Otter now available for use, Air Wilga arranged a lease of EYY to Johnny May's Air Charter Ltd, based at Kuujjuaq in remote northern Quebec, to whom the Otter was registered in March 2000. An hour into the delivery flight from Laval to Kuujjuaq, it had to make a precautionary landing on a frozen lake, but was able to continue and it entered service with Johnny May's Air Charter on 17th March 2000, on wheel-skis. It continued flying based out of Kuujjuaq until an incident on 20th June, when the Otter suffered engine failure and had to make forced landing. It transpired that it had been wrongly fuelled with jet fuel. It was flown back to Laval St.Francois where the engine was replaced with another Orenda engine on loan from the Orenda company and EYY then returned to Kuujjuaq on 15th July on floats, where it continued to fly for Johnny May's Air Charter until the end of October 2000. It then returned to Laval St.Francois where it was in storage over the winter of 2000/2001.

For the summer season of 2001 it was to undertake “an aggressive commercial schedule in the Canadian north”, according to a press release put out by the Orenda Recip company, who were very keen to promote the project. Air Wilga arranged a lease of EYY to Aero Golfe Ltee based at Havre St.Pierre on the north shore of the St.Lawrence, to whom the Otter was registered on 19th July 2001 and it was delivered from Laval to Havre St.Pierre. Aero Golfe were familiarising themselves with the Otter when on 22nd July, only three days after its delivery, it was again in difficulties. EYY had just taken off from Lac des Plaines at Havre St.Pierre, en route to Lac Foie-de-Veau, when it experienced difficulty in climbing. It struck a mound of earth at the lake shore with the floats, and came down in an adjacent swamp, scraping a wingtip and damaging the cowling. After temporary repairs on site, it was flown back to Laval for permanent repairs, before it returned to Havre St.Pierre to resume the lease to Aero Golfe.

Aero Golfe flew the Otter north to Puvurnituk, where it was used for one hundred hours flying in support of mining prospectors. It was then used by Aero Golfe based at Riviere Portneuf for tourist sight seeing flights until 1st October 2001, when it was returned off lease to Air Wilga and again stored at Laval St.Francois for the winter of 2001/2002. There was no lease customer for the Otter for the summer of 2002, and so EYY was made available to Orenda Recip Inc to be exhibited at the Oshkosh Air Show in July 2002. For that purpose the Otter was registered to Propair Inc and flown from Laval to Oshkosh, where it was exhibited. It was advertised as “The world's most affordable and advanced high power reciprocating engine. Complete firewall forward kit for US$229,000. Turbine power for piston price”. At Oshkosh the Otter was parked beside an Air Tractor agricultural aircraft, which had also been converted with an Orenda engine, at the Orenda Recip display area.

EYY then returned to Laval, and while it remained registered to Propair Inc it was operated for Air Wilga, based out of LG4 in northern Quebec during the caribou hunting season of August/September 2002, after which it returned to Laval for storage for the winter of 2002/2003. A lease was then arranged to Waasheshkun Airways of Mistassini, Quebec to whom EYY was registered on 4th February 2003 and it headed north to St.Felicien, Quebec. It was to join Waasheshkun's own Otter C-FDIO (452) flying in support of native trappers and diamond prospectors in the remote northern bush country of Quebec, but before it got started on this business, disaster struck.In December 2002, the owners of the Orenda Recip Inc company decided to close the company down, as it had failed in commercial terms to successfully exploit the Orenda engine.

Even though the engine had been certified for use in the Otter by Transport Canada, the fact that the manufacturer of the engine was no longer in business and was no longer in a position to support the engine and accept responsibility for it, led to the withdrawal of certification and to the grounding of the two Otters which had been converted to the Orenda engine, EYY (19) and AZX (458), both owned by Air Wilga. EYY was stranded in St.Felicien, Quebec, where the wings were taken off and the engine removed, and it was put into storage pending a decision on its future. Otter C-FVVY (410) was chartered from Big River Air to fulfil the commitments which EYY should have undertaken. As at June 2004, EYY was still stranded at St.Felicien.

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