Photos © Ruud Leeuw

Bushplanes at Nestor Falls, Ontario

In search of the bushplanes of North America, I made a roadtrip through Northwest Ontario. This is the last page of a circle trip which started in Kenora,ONT and ended there too.

Nestor Falls is the last stop before we get to Kenora again.

Nestor Falls

Nestor Falls/Sabaskong Bay Water Aerodrome (TC LID: CKW3) is located on Sabaskong Bay near Nestor Falls, Ontario.
Actually, I found 2 spots which harboured floatplanes!
Nestor Falls Fly-In is the first we have a look at.

Photos courtesy Google Maps & Google Earth


Nestor Falls Fly-in Outposts
The website shows more aircraft including a Turbine Otter and a Twin Beech. These were not at the dock when I dropped in unannounced.
We found the place deserted, no one to talk to.


End of season
Dehavilland bushplanes
I would imagine the Turbine Otter (C-FSOR) and the Twin Beech (C-FWWV) were en route to a remote lodge, to clean it out of equipment for storage at homebase. Such as can be seen on the photo on the left.
This location can be best described at 'tranquil'!
As I am as much an admirer of these bushplanes as well as of the scenic beauty through which we travelled, my camera worked overtime on this trip.



Some history of this Dehavilland DHC-2 Beaver C-FMDB (c/n 268)-
Delivered on 06Jun52 and with tailnumber 51-16800 delivered to the US Army (designated an L-20). It migrated for the military to Europe and was found for sale at the Coleman Barracks in Mannheim-Sandhofen, Germany during Feb74 with a recorded total 4,872.0 hours.
Canadian tailnumber C-GOLF was probably reserved but not used and it became SE-FUH for Turistflyg i Aejeplog AB, Arjeplog (Sweden), registered 27Aug75 (by Handelsbanken Finans AB).
Its European adventure was over when it was exported to USA on 08Aug89 and became N2140X.
At some point it became C-FMDB for Nestor Falls Bait and Tackle Ltd. of Nestor Falls,ONT. And it was registered on 10Jun93 to Nestor Falls Fly-in Outposts Ltd.
[Source: ]


Close up DHC-3 Otter c/n 13, registered CF-ODK to the Department of Lands & Forests, was delivered to the Ontario Provincial Air Service (OPAS) on 22nd May 1953, based at Sault St.Marie, Ontario.
It was the second Otter delivered to OPAS, the first being CF-ODJ (14) on 8th May '53, these being the first two of an order for eleven new Otters from Dehavilland Canada (DHC). In their attractive and distinctive all yellow scheme with black trim, these Otters served the Province for many years, providing a full range of aerial bush services.

The Otters were most active during the summer months, but some of the fleet were also kept going on wheel-skis during the winter. The Otters were modified as water bombers, to fight forest fires which plague the Province during the summer, and were also invaluable for moving fire crews.
The Fish & Wildlife Branch was another big user of the Otter, on surveys, census taking, fish stocking and enforcement of game laws. Timber surveys were another task. Year round, the Otters provided transportation for officials to all the remote parts of this huge Province, including many native settlements, and brought cargo wherever it was needed. They were also available year round for SAR and medevacs.

DHC-3 cargodoor

Only one minor incident is recorded in respect of CF-ODK during its service with OPAS. It was damaged in a hard landing at Terrace Bay on Lake Superior, Ontario on 11th August 1970. The pilot had “misjudged speed and distance”. The damage was repaired and ODK returned to service. In September 1972, along with all the other OPAS Otters, the registered owner was changed to the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and the registration became C-FODK.
After thirty years of faithful service, ODK was put up for sale, as the Province disposed of its Otter fleet.
The Otter was destined to stay in Ontario, however, as its purchaser was Huron Air & Outfitters Inc of Armstrong- McKenzie Lake, to whom ODK was registered in May 1984. Armstrong is one of these 'end of the road' towns, ideally located to serve the vast central region of northern Ontario. ODK joined Huron Air's then fleet of Cessna 185s. It was to serve Huron Air for fourteen years, the registration reverting to CF-ODK in April 1997.

During this long period of service, it flew fishermen to the many lodges in this remote and beautiful land, flew passengers and cargo to the native settlements, flew construction workers out into the bush to establish mining camps and kept the camps supplied.
Its time with Huron Air came to an end on 26th May 1998. The float-equipped Otter had just taken off from Lake Machawaian, some one hundred miles to the north of Armstrong, after dropping off six passengers. At an altitude of 500 feet the engine began to backfire and lose power. The pilot switched fuel tanks and turned on the electric fuel boost pump, but the engine would not stop backfiring. ODK began to lose airspeed and altitude, and the pilot elected to land straight ahead. The Otter crashed into trees and muskeg approximately three miles south of the lake, and was substantially damaged...
That was the end of its career with Huron Air, who leased Otter C-FCEE (282) for summer 1998, until they purchased another former Ontario Government Otter C-GOFF (65) as a replacement in October '98.

Close up

The wreck of ODK was sold by the insurers to Aviation V.L. Inc who retrieved the Otter from the crash site and transported it to their facility at St.Jean Airfield, Montreal where the rebuild commenced. The Otter was registered to Aviation V.L. Inc in April 1999, reverting to C-FODK the following month.
After the rebuild was complete, ODK was sold to Nestor Falls Fly-In Outposts Ltd, to whom it was registered in July 1999, joining their other Otter C-FSOR (239) as well as a Beaver and Beech 18. This carrier is based at Nestor Falls, Ontario not far from the US border and is a summeronly operator, catering for fishermen and tourists.

For the fisherman, the company flies to9 different lakes, with 12 cottages to chose from, all about 200 miles north of Nestor Falls. C-FODK entered service with the company, flying the larger groups to the lakes and on sightseeing flights during the summer months, put into storage for the winter.

Source: DHC-3 Otter by Karl E. Hayes

During 2008 FODK was converted to turbine power! This I learned from "This past winter, Dave Beaushene, owner of Nestor Falls Fly-In Outposts, decided to replace the powerplant on one of his Otters, C-FODK. Dave has two Otters, the other being C-FSOR. SOR has a 'Garrett' powering her, and has given such 'stellar performance' that Dave decided ODK should have a Garrett also, which would entail removing her Pratt and Whitney R-1340. Anyone who has flown thousands of hours on R-1340s and 'still lives' applauds this move, as the old radials are just 'too tired', and should all be sent to the 'retirement home'. In my career I have had 5 cylinder failures on 1340s.
Anyways, the good folks at Recon Air Corporation converted ODK to the Garrett turbine, Bobby Bishop from Texas Turbines did the initial 'run-ups', some technical problems were identified, which is a normal part of any engine conversion, some 'tweaks' were made to the aircraft systems, and finally I flew ODK to the hangar at Minaki so 'floats' could be installed. ODK now sits on floats, and has been 'earning her keep' flying fishermen 'to and from' the bush!"

The huge tailfin of the DHC-3 Otter

A nice place to live
Nextdoor neighbour... what a location!
But we have to move on. ..


Northwest Flying Inc Northwest Flying Inc (former Northwestern Flying Services Ltd) can be found on the Nestor Falls Seaplane Base and I found all planes at 'homeplate'.

Their website offers idyllic hideouts as destinations, such as Cleftrock Lake, Gordon Lake and Kishkutena Lake.
Love to go there some day!


This is C-FNKL, a Beechcraft D18S (Beech C-45H or 'Twin Beech') with construction number AF-378.
CF-NKL was registered to Northwest Flying Inc on 30Apr64 !
It has flown for the USAF as 51-11821, manufactured in 1955. In 1961, it was the prototype Beech 18 float conversion by Bristol Aerospace of Winnipeg.
These floatplanes seem in excellent condition, but then again they only fly in the summer and during the winter they are treated to much 'TLC- Tender Loving Care..!'


Piper PA-12 C-FYMS (Serial No: 12-2397) was registered 10Aug06 to Northwest Flying Inc.



C-GEBL's history-
DHC-2 c/n 1068, delivered on 25Mar57 as 56-0369 to the USAF. It became N33466 for W. L. Morse duringjuly 1972.
Imported to Canada 1975, it became C-GEBL for R. W. Kangas Ltd. of Thunder Bay,ONT (registered in Oct75).
It has been registered to Northwest Flying Inc. of Nestor Falls,ONT since 30may80.
[Source ]

Dirk Septer wrote me in March 2008:
"I did some mineral exploration work out of there in 1980, when gold went up to $800/ounce.
Checked my log book: some of the aircraft you mentioned were already there then:
C-GEBL 28.07.80 Flint Lake-Nestor Falls
C-GEBL 02.08.80 Nestor Falls-Peninsula Bay
C-GYSS 19.08.80 Nestor Falls-Peninsula Bay
Long time ago, can kick myself I never carried a camera then!"



C-GYYS awaiting new assignment

Otter c/n 276 was delivered to the United States Army on 17th July 1958 with serial 57-6131 (tail number 76131). It was allocated to the 12th Aviation Company, Fort Sill, Oklahoma and in August 1961 it flew north to Alaska when the Company was re-assigned there to join the Yukon Command.
The Company was based at Fort Wainright, Fairbanks but maintained a platoon at Fort Richardson, Anchorage and 76131 alternated between the two bases while it flew for the 12th Aviation Company throughout the 1960s.


In June 1971 the Otter was re-assigned to the Alaska National Guard, based at Bethel, and served there until October '71 when its military career came to an end.
It was ferried south to Davis- Monthan AFB, Tucson, Arizona where it was put into storage in the Sonora Desert 'boneyard', one of five US Army Otters to be stored there. It had flown south alongside Otter 81685 (291), also retired from the National Guard at Bethel at the same time and also put into storage in the 'boneyard'. Inventory code of 81685 was UA002 and for 76131 it was UA003

None of these five US Army Otters remained in storage for long.
The following year, 76131 was allocated to the University of Wisconsin, registered N1UW in September 1972 and based at Oshkosh, Wisconsin. It remained in use with the University until sold in 1979 to Art Gaffray of Silver Falls, Manitoba. He arranged for it to be flown to his base at Silver falls, where it was overhauled and registered C-GYYS.
He then sold it on in May 1979 to Northwestern Flying Services Ltd based at Nestor Falls, Ontario.
In December 1987 there was a change of title to Northwest Flying Inc. It flies alongside the company's Beaver C-GEBL and Beech 18 C-FNKL, operating during the summer months, flying fishermen and tourists.

Close up cargodoor

The Otter was badly damaged in an accident while landing at Sabaskong Bay at Nestor Falls, Ontario on 3rd June 1998. As the accident report states: "The pilot did not see the hydro power lines that were strung between the mainland and a group of islands. The pilot knew the power lines were there, and had flown in and out of the same bay many times. He believed that he had flown past the wires, which did not have any markers. The Otter hit the power lines, which folded the aircraft's right wing back against the fuselage and tore off the rudder. The Otter struck the water upright and the pilot taxied the aircraft to the shore". C-GYYS was trucked to Recon Air at Geraldton, Ontario for repair, after which it re-entered service with Northwest Flying Inc.

Source: DHC-3 Otter by Karl E. Hayes






A few more images of C-FNKL.



A little north on Highway 71 one finds the Nestor Falls airport, which features a 3800' hard surface strip.
We found it deserted except for this Cessna 150H CF-DEH (15068710), which has been registered to Melvin & Candace Olson of Nestor Falls since 12Sep85.
It made the distinct impression of being stored, parked among some trees, missing some vital parts at the tailsection.


This concludes the circle trip we drove in Northwest Ontario. Hope you enjoyed it as much as we did !


Nestor Falls Fly-In
Northwest Flying Inc

The Roads Goes On...Forever :
Vermilion Bay
Ear Falls
Red Lake
Sioux Lookout
Savant Lake
Fort Frances

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Created: 28-Feb-2008