44 - N10704

Photo courtesy of Rich Hulina 2004

Serial Number






Year of Manufacture



 Turbo-Prop PT6A






 Northern Aircraft Leasing Inc


 100 N Westerhaven Drive STE D, Oshkosh, WI 54904-7427

Contact / Link



 11 seat layout

Otter 44 was delivered to the RCAF on 20th September 1954 with serial 3683, its first tasking being with the Central Experimental & Proving Establishment (CEPE) Air Armament Evaluation Detachment, based at Cold Lake, Alberta passing on two months later, in November 1954, to the Station Flight at RCAF base Cold Lake. It was joined in February 1955 by 3698 (65) and together these two Otters served the Station Flight at Cold Lake until May 1957, when they were replaced by another two Otters, 3685 and 3661.

Located in remote northern Alberta, and now famous as the location of the Maple Flag exercises, Cold Lake was since it was opened in March 1954 an important RCAF base, due to the presence of the Primrose Lake Testing Range, a vast air-to-air and air-to-ground range which straddled the Alberta/Saskatchewan border to the northeast of the base, covering some 8,000 square miles. During the 1950s/1960s, the Range was run by the CEPE and was used by RCAF CF-100s and later CF-104 Starfighters for air-to-air combat exercises and as a calibrated range for dropping ordnance. Hundreds of simulated ground targets littered the Range, providing a target-rich environment for the fighters.

The Otters were used, until replaced by helicopters, as Range support aircraft, transporting personnel, supplies, equipment etc in and out of the Range. There was a base camp at one end of Primrose Lake with a target-drone launching area to which the Otters flew, as well as to wherever else on the Range that transport was required. One mishap is recorded with 3683 during its time at Cold Lake, on 23rd November 1955 when the pilot landed on the frozen Cold Lake and while he was taxying the Otter broke through the ice. The pilot had accepted information on the ice thickness from an inexperienced observer, and had underestimated the weight of the aircraft. The ice was only five inches thick and could not support the Otter's weight.

3683 was fished out of the lake, and spent a year recuperating at the Repair Depot at Lincoln Park, Calgary before rejoining the Cold Lake Station Flight in November 1956, where it continued to serve until May 1957 when it went to DHC at Downsview for incorporation of the All Up Weight modification, and then in September 1957 it went into storage with No.6 Repair Depot at Dunnville. It remained in storage (apart from a trip by road to Quebec in July 1958 for a recruiting campaign) until November 1958, when it went on loan to the RCMP, to bridge a gap until they received one of the Otters they had ordered from DHC.

With the RCMP Air Division, the Otter was registered CF-MPU and was based at Frobisher Bay in the Northwest Territories, operated by the RCMP but also used by the Department of Northern Affairs as well as on police business. In July 1959 the Otter was returned to the RCAF when Otter CF-MPY (324) was delivered to the RCMP, and took over from 'MPU at Frobisher Bay. MPU reverted to serial 3683 and went back into storage with No.6 Repair Depot, Trenton until issued to the CEPE at Uplands in December 1960, and then to the Piston Training Flight at Rockcliffe in February 1961. It went to DHC for work in February 1962 and then back into storage with 6RD, Dunnville. In September 1964 it was transferred to storage at Saskatoon, Saskatchewan before being allocated to 402 Squadron, Winnipeg, which it joined on 17th January 1966, replacing Otter 9415 with the Squadron.

3683 served with 402 Squadron, Winnipeg for seven years until transferred in May 1973 to 401 Squadron, St.Hubert. Its military career came to an end in November 1975 when it flew to the AMDU, Saskatoon and was handed over to the Crown Assets Disposal Corporation for disposal. It was to remain in government service, however, as after two years in storage it was one of seven Otters at Saskatoon allocated to the Province of Ontario, Ministry of Natural Resources and after a complete refurbish at the Ministry's base at Sault Ste.Marie, Ontario was registered to the Ministry as C-GOFC in April 1978.

For the next nine years, painted in the Ministry's attractive yellow scheme with black trim, 'OFC served the Province of Ontario as one of its large fleet of Otters, until that fleet was disposed of during the mid 1980s. The Otter was sold to a Jim K. Harrower, trading as 'Northward Bound', to whom it was registered N44NB in June 1986, being subsequently registered to Northward Bound Inc. The Otter retained its yellow and black colour scheme and was first used to fly supplies from Anchorage to Stoney River, Alaska where Mr.Harrower was building a lodge. It was then based at Anchorage among the many general aviation aircraft at Lake Hood, but operating on wheels from the gravel strip beside the lake, or else the runways of the international airport, available for charter for tourists, hunters, fishermen etc. N44NB was invariably to be seen parked beside Northward Bound's corporate headquarters, a wooden hut beside Lake Hood, near to where Rusts Flying Service and Ketchum Air kept their Otters, so that it was in good company.

In December 1994 the Otter was sold to Robert J.Wesley, trading as 'Nordic Flying Services' and moved to Birchwood Airport, Chugiak, Alaska, some thirty miles north of Anchorage. He operated the Otter during the winter and spring of 1994/95 but had a mishap at Selawik, Alaska on 28th March 1995. The purpose of the flight on that day was to transport four barrels of fuel to a remote field site. During the initial take-off from the Selawik River, the Otter which was on wheel-skis struck a ten foot snowbank, severing the right main landing gear. The Otter came to rest with the right gear collapsed, and the right wing resting on the frozen, snow-covered river. The take-off area was smooth crusted snow over ice, two thousand feet in length. The accident report concluded that the pilot had attempted to take off with insufficient distance to clear obstacles. The Otter was repaired on site.

The Otter was sold to Wilderness North Air Ltd of Armstrong-Waweig Lake, Ontario, to whom it was registered C-FYCX in May 1996. It had been delivered by Mr Wesley to Oshkosh, Wisconsin in August 1995, where a company associated with Wilderness North Air is based. The Otter was converted to a Vazar turbine Otter during 1997 and is used during the summer months to fly fishermen and tourists into the bush. During the winter it is put into storage, usually at Recon Air, Geraldton, Ontario. On 17th January 2002 the Otter was registered N10704 to Northern Aircraft Leasing Inc of Oshkosh, Wisconsin and together with N10708 (359), went on lease to Alaska.

The lessee was Alaska Air Taxi LLC of Anchorage. They picked up both turbine Otters at Geraldton and flew first to Thunder Bay, Ontario, where some work was performed on the radios. The two Otters then flew on together through Saskatchewan to Grand Prairie, Alberta where they were weathered in for five days, and then onwards via Watson Lake to Whitehorse, Yukon and then on to Anchorage. Both Otters were in service with Alaska Air Taxi during the summer of 2002 flying from Lake Hood, on floats. They were still in Wilderness North Air colour scheme but with Alaska Air Taxi titles. They were used to service fishing and hunting lodges and fly tourists, and were put into storage at Anchorage for the winter of 2002/03 and put up for sale by the owners in May 2003. N10704 was advertised as having 10,736 hours total time, on EDO 7170 floats, Part 135 certified, with an asking price of US$960,000 including wheels, skis and floats. On 23rd May 2003, Otter 44 was re-registered C-FYCX to Waweig Air of Armstrong, Ontario on its return to Canada, a company associated with Wilderness North Air. It joined turbine Otter C-FQND (233) with Waweig Air.

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