Helijet Sikorsky S-76 & Harbour Air DHC-3 Turbine Otter
In the early 2000s I lived in beautiful Victoria, British Columbia, about as far west in Canada as you can be without falling into the Pacific Ocean. Â Victoria is at the most southern tip of 460 km (290 mile) long Vancouver Island, about even with Whidbey Island, Washington. Â Business would take me to downtown Vancouver regularly, a straight-line distance of about 110 km (70 miles). Â I could drive to the ferry terminal, wait, have a nice 90 minute ferry ride, then drive in traffic to downtown Vancouver. Â Total trip time? Â 3 hours, if traffic was light. Â Cost? Â About CA$70 each way. But I could also fly harbour to harbour in about 30 minutes. Â As a fellow AvGeek, which one do you think I enjoyed more??
There are 2 regular airline services flying between Victoriaâ€™s and Vancouverâ€™s harbours. Â Both harbours are Transport Canada certified airports, with designated water â€œrunwaysâ€. Â You can fly fixed-wing on Harbour Airâ€™s 14 passenger DeHavilland Canada DHC-3 Turbine Otters or 18-seat DHC-6 Twin Otters. Â Or you can take a helicopter – Helijet flies 12-seat, twin-engine, Sikorsky S-76s or 4-seat Bell 206L LongRangers. Â Which way to go? Â Letâ€™s have a look at the two airlines.
Twin Otter – Series 400 on Amphibious Floats – check out the prop vortices!
Photo: Viking Air
You know what itâ€™s like. You look in the closet, and see that well-worn leather jacket hanging there. It keeps you warm, you know it makes you look good, but itâ€™s showing its age. The zipper might not work so well or a pocket lining might be a bit torn. You take care of it – itâ€™s been repaired and cleaned many times. Youâ€™ve been thinking about getting a new one, but you canâ€™t find one anywhere, because styles and materials have changed over the years. Â So you keep wearing it and wearing it and wearing it.
AvGeeks know that there are a few airplanes that are like that. Love â€˜em, canâ€™t replace â€˜em! Â The venerable Douglas DC-3 is one. Never duplicated, and still flying with airlines like Buffalo Airways of â€œIce Pilots NWTâ€ fame, even though the last DC-3 rolled off the assembly line in 1947.
The deHavilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter is another. Amazing Short Take Off and Landing (STOL) capability, twin bulletproof Pratt & Whitney Canada turboprops, decent cruise speed, has 19 seats, or it can carry a whack of cargo. The final Series 300 â€œTwotterâ€ was produced in 1988 at the DHC plant in Toronto.Â Over 800 Twin Otters were produced, and 600 are still flying on land, sea and snow, from pole-to-pole and on every continent. An amazing statistic. Operators said that the only thing that can replace an old Twin Otter is a NEW Twin Otter. But new onesÂ weren’tÂ available, so operators kept flying them and flying them and flying them.