Wednesday, August 11, 2010

deHaviland Otter a magnificent plane

Joel Prunty, All-Canada Show, media manager - Last week I flew on a deHaviland DHC3 Turbo Otter (pictured here with my nephew Joe). This is the exact same model of plane that crashed in Alaska this week where ex-senator Ted Stevens and five others were killed. This is a sad story for many reasons, but the saddest of all is it didn’t have to happen.

The Otter is an unbelievably airworthy plane and with the turboprop conversion, incidence of mechanical failure is among the lowest of all aircraft. The first Otter flew in 1951 and was originally called the King Beaver after its little brother the deHaviland Beaver.

Like the Beaver, the Otter was built for the bush and this no-nonsense plane is at home in the wilderness. It can carry a large payload or up to 10 people comfortably. The Otter has earned a well deserved reputation for being very reliable even in the extreme conditions of the Arctic.

I don’t know the circumstance of the crash in Alaska, but my guess is the weather conditions will be the primary factor. This usually comes down to poor judgment (pilot error) in marginal flying conditions. The rugged, varied and mountainous landscape of Alaska adds greatly to that risk.

Personally, I can’t wait to hop in an Otter again…they are a magnificent aircraft designed and built in Canada. Do not be afraid, however, to question your pilot if visibility is potentially a problem. As one pilot told me “I’d rather be on the ground wishing I was in the air…than in the air wishing I was on the ground.” Safe Travels

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