Twin Otter Floatplane Down Off California


The FAA has confirmed that a Viking Air 400 Series Twin Otter crashed about 35 miles off the coast of California on what might have been a ferry flight to Hawaii. The aircraft took off from Santa Rosa, California, about 3:21 p.m. bound for Honolulu. It crashed about 4:15 p.m. It was carrying two people. According to the Aviation Safety Network, the aircraft had turned back toward Half Moon Bay Airport.

Photos available online show the aircraft, which is registered to Seafly LLC, of Palo Alto, California, equipped with amphibious floats. The normal range of the Series 400 Twin Otter, which is a newly manufactured version of the aircraft built by De Havilland Canada, is about 950 miles. It’s about 2,350 miles from California to Honolulu.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.

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  1. The FAA registry notes that this aircraft had been retrofitted with extended range fuel tanks.

  2. I’m sad to hear about the loss.

    I’d have guessed that if a person was to ferry an amphib so far it would be better to put it on wheels and ship the floats.

    I’d estimate the floats reduce the range by about 25%; commensurate with the change in cruise speed.

  3. In the late ’70’s a friend was flying a C-45 back to Honolulu and over halfway lost all electronics but the HF radio and still had the wet compass. Called the Coast Guard and they sent a C-130 out to lead him back. When he landed there were maybe 5 minutes, if that, of fuel left. Sorry to hear of this loss but you better have your A-game for flying to and from Hawaii.

  4. Landing a seaplane in the water shouldn’t have killed two pilots. Maybe they couldn’t extricate themselves from the aircraft and went down with the ship?

  5. If there is a big swell running the chance of surviving a water landing in a float plane may not be much better than a land plane.

  6. Interesting- I’m based at KSTS where the flight departed. All local reports and photos indicated wheels not floats, and that the plane was found floating upside down in rough seas with both deceased pilots still strapped in. The paucity of reliable information in the days or even months following a fatal aircraft accident never ceases to amaze me. The pilots evidently did radio indicating failure of aux tank valves and saying that they “hoped” to make half moon bay. This strongly suggests that they made the water landing without the benefit of power-a recipe for disaster with floats. Sounds like these guys faced some serious, all gray-area decision making.