DeHavilland DHC-3 Otter - a History

by Karl E. Hayes

If ever there was an aircraft of immense interest whose exploits have gone, for the most part, unrecorded and unnoticed, it must surely be the DeHavilland Canada Otter.
I particularly noticed this when during my travels in 2006 through parts of Alaska and Canada I came across several Otters and tried to research them.

The DHC-3 Otter first flew in December 1951 and ever since it has faithfully served its operators, both civil and military, mostly in remote parts of the world. Despite its many achievements and the great amount of important work it has performed over the years, and continues to perform, only a very limited amount has been written about it. Karl Hayes made a commendable effort to correct this and I can recommend this CD to anyone interested in bushplanes and/or the DHC-3 in particular.

The Otter was heavily involved in the Antarctic exploration programme of the late 1950s and early 1960s, but writings on this topic usually concentrate on other types of aircraft that were involved. It made a huge contribution in many outback parts of the world to their development. In US Army service it was instrumental in mapping and survey work in the Americas, from Alaska all the way south to Chile, and also in northern Africa and yet these roles are largely unknown. In Vietnam it saw ten years of combat service and yet books on the South East Asian conflict either ignore the Otter completely or mention it only in passing.
In its home country of Canada, as in Alaska, it must surely be the ultimate bush aircraft and yet it is usually mentioned, if at all, as being a "big Beaver", which it is, but it still merits discussion of its own achievements.

This CD addresses these shortcomings, and pays adequate tribute to the history and work of the Otter, recording it for posterity.
It is an attempt to gather together all information that could be ascertained on the DHC-3 Otter. There is undoubtedly much more information "out there somewhere". There must be many persons who were involved with Otters over the years, as pilots, maintainers, operators, members of military units etc who have their stories and history on Otter aircraft. Click here
It is also to be hoped that this CD will bring together all those persons interested in the Otter, and foster a community of interest in this fine old bushplane. It is requested that anyone with any additional information, or corrections, would send in their data so that a future edition of this CD could include this information.

Information on developments on the Otters still flying would also be appreciated. It is also hoped to issue periodic updates, and anyone sending in any information, either current or historic, will be sent copies of such updates.
Any such information can be sent to the following postal address or by e-mail:
Karl Hayes,
Killiney Hill Road,
County Dublin,

This CD has been prepared not as a commercial undertaking with a view to profit, but so that all the fascinating information which has been collected can be shared with those many people who are also interested in the Otter. It would have been nice to publish a book on the subject, but with some 900 pages of text, such an undertaking would have cost a fortune and would not have been feasible...

CD-ROM Update: 01Jan2008

This update brings the situation up to 1 January 2008. It includes a listing of all Otters currently in service and their engine type.
Right-click here and select 'Save Target as' or 'Save Link As' from the menu to download Update 2 as a PDF document.

Courtesy of Aad van der Voet - Old Wings

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