I’ve got a little stick time in a Twin Otter, throwing skydivers out the back door. I’ve got a lot more time sitting in the back waiting to be tossed out, a task for which the DH6 Twin Otter is perfect. And this humorous rap video by Buz and Dorothy Andrusiak show how perfectly DeHavilland got the Otter for its intended purpose: Haul a lot of stuff almost anywhere you think you might need to go where there’s not much of a runway or no runway at all.
The airplane is built hell for strong, with high-aspect wings supported by beefy struts tied to robust fixed landing gear. For power, DeHavilland picked the Pratt & Whitney PT6 which, in subsequent years, got more powerful variants to improve performance. When it first appeared in 1965, the airplane found a ready market in the burgeoning commuter airliner industry. The Otter was perfectly suited for a full cabin and short stage lengths to small airports. It could also be fitted with skis and floats, making it ideal for transport to unimproved parts of the far north. It was designed for easy maintenance, especially the engines, and with tanks in the belly, it could easily be safely hot fueled without shutting down in deep sub-zero weather.
Fifty-eight years after its first flight, the DH6 soldiers on around the world in jobs that no other airplane can quite do. DeHavilland built 844 Twin Otters and Viking, which acquired the type certificates in 2006, has built a respectable 141. For skydiving, the Otter’s days may be numbered. They’re getting increasingly expensive to maintain and Garrett-equipped single-engine Caravans get to altitude quicker on less fuel.
Sigh. I’ll continue to jump the DH6 until they drag me kicking and screaming from its warm embrace.