32 - C-GCMY


Serial Number






Year of Manufacture



 Turbo-Prop PT6A-135


 18nm S of Alliford Bay BC.




 Harbour Air



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Crashed 18th August 1996. Struck side of a valley at 1,700 feet asl in poor visibility.

Otter 32 was delivered to the RCAF on 22nd March 1954 with serial 3674. It was allocated initially to the Station Flight at Trenton Air Base, Ontario. It was recorded arriving in the Falconbridge, Ontario area on 26th June 1955 to assist in the search for a missing person on Lake Wanapitec. It was posted in July 1955 to 408 Squadron at Rockcliffe. With the squadron it flew north to assist in the unit's tasks in Quebec and Labrador. After flying with 408 Squadron for the summer, it went to No.6 Repair Depot for storage in October 1955, returning to 408 Squadron in April 1956. It is mentioned in the Squadron's history operating out of Knob Lake (Schefferville, Quebec) during the early summer of 1956, and on 7th July VC994, the Goose Bay-based C-47 arrived at Knob Lake with a crew for 3674, which then flew to Goose, out of where it was to operate for the rest of the summer.

3674 suffered a mishap on 12th October 1956 while taking off from Rigolet, Labrador with five
persons on board. During the run-up prior to taking off from a rough sea in high winds, the port wing rose and the starboard float sank until the wing touched the water. A flooded compartment in the right float contributed to the incident. Some damage to the ailerons and flaps occurred. On 16th October, the Otter was towed the length of Lake Melville back to Goose Bay by a USAF barge, and repaired.

The following month, the Otter flew south and went on loan to DHC from November 1956 until February 1962. Based at Downsview, it was used for STOL research. At one stage it was fitted with huge 'batwing' flaps, mounted on a ground test rig, and had tufting fitted to show the effect of airflow on the flight surfaces. After the tests, it was returned to conventional configuration. On 9th May 1961 it went into storage at Dunville, before being allocated on 27th July 1961 to 12 TSU, De Havilland, who prepared the Otter for return to RCAF service. On 16th February 1962 the Otter was assigned to the Central Experimental Proving Establishment (CEPE) at Uplands, Ottawa for what is described in the records as a “Telecom Evaluation”. It was fitted with a set of amphibious floats (taken from Otter 3689). Photographs of the Otter during this period show it in Rescue marks with “Air Material Command” titles.

There followed quite a number of different postings for the Otter. On 16th May '62 it went to the Cold Lake Station Flight, Cold Lake, Alberta and then on 18th January 1963 it arrived at Rockcliffe and joined the Air Force Headquarters Piston Training Flight, where it flew alongside the Flight's Expeditors and Dakotas. The amphibious floats were taken off 6th September '63 (and installed on Otter 3673) and 3674 reverted to an Otter on wheels. It continued in use with the Piston Training Flight until 31st March 1964 when it transferred to the RCAF base at Uplands, Ottawa for use by the Headquarters Training Flight. On 9th April 1965 it was re-assigned to 402 Squadron, Winnipeg but was actually based at Armstrong, Ontario servicing a Mid Canada Line radar site. The radar station was located near to Armstrong on the northern shore of Lake Nipigon and had its own flight of Otters, detached from other units, mostly from 402 Squadron, Winnipeg.

On 28th May 1965 the Otter returned to the Headquarters Training Flight at Uplands but on 23rd June '65 flew to Trenton before heading north for Goose Bay and service with its Station Flight on 12th August '65. Here it remained until 11th October 1966 when it was re-assigned to 438 Squadron at St.Hubert, Quebec which was to be its last posting. 438 “City of Montreal” Squadron was one of the auxiliary squadrons, flying Otters and Beech Expeditors. The Otter's service with 438 Squadron was to last little more than a year. On 7th January 1968, 3674 was engaged on a navigation training cross-country flight from its base at St.Hubert. The pilot was on a ski-training exercise and after performing circuits and landings on a bay, he proceeded to Lake Memphremagog, Quebec where he flew a standard “strange lake landing pattern”.

After two touch-and-go landings, the Otter was landed on the ice. While taxying for take-off, one ski broke through the ice, which then gave way and the Otter sank. The two crew members evacuated the aircraft through the rear door and managed to reach firm ice. They had no time to turn off the fuel or electrics. The aircraft sank until it was supported by the wing tips resting on firmer ice.

As the crew were walking to the shore, the Otter exploded and sank to the bottom. The investigation determined that the ice thickness was only four inches, and that the Unit had failed to determine that there was adequate ice thickness on the selected training areas. The official record notes “Salvage attempt abandoned”. However, eight and a half years later, in June 1976, a salvage company, Laffitte Salvage, managed to raise the fuselage after a marathon twenty four effort. It was later seen in a scrapyard at St.Laurent, Quebec.

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