The design of the Twin Otter appears, at first blush, to be fairly improbable in many particulars. Twin engine aircraft typically have retractable landing gear, the Twin Otter does not. Turboprop twins usually don't feature high lift wings supported by struts, but once again, the Twin Otter does. To get any stranger than the Twin Otter, we'd have to consider the Shorts Skyvan series of aircraft, or planes that came from the Soviet Union. But as strange as the Twin Otter was, and still is, it was a winner not only in the bush, but accepted as a small regional airliner the world round. The Twin Otter didn't seem to fit anyone's conception of what an airplane should be, and perhaps by doing so, it created a niche for itself with many different users. The design was solid and dependable and even though its been out of production for years, there are persistent cries from many camps for a resumption of production. All Twin Otters were trigear aircraft, except those fitted with floats, and it could be fitted with skies.
The Twin Otter was derived from deHavilland's successful single Otter design. It would be a bit simplistic to say it was merely a “twin Otter” but it did share many similarities to its smaller single engine brother. Depending upon the specific model, Twin Otters seated between 15 and 22 people. All models were powered by the Pratt & Whitney PT-6A series turboprop, which is a legendary engine in its own right. The Twin Otter typically cruised around 150 mph and, for a plane its size, could get in and out of remarkably tight strips. The design was an instant hit in the bush as it replaced many antiquated designs (such as the DC-3) that never were really designed for the bush in the first place.
The only thing, other than size and acquisition cost, that initially limited its use in the bush was availability of jet fuel, with some remote areas not having any jet fuel supplies at all. In modern times the situation has come full circle, now piston fuel is becoming more and more scarce in remote locations. This is one of the reasons calls for resumed production are often heard.
Viking Air of Victoria, Canada owns the production rights to the Twin Otter and will resume production of the Twin Otter - Series 400 if they obtain enough firm commitments.
Watch this Maldivian air taxi DHC-6 Twin Otter startup and takeoff from Hakuraa Huraa island in the Maldives.
Here is a Maldivian Airlines Twin Otter with some scenic video footage of the Maledives and clean ocean water. The video was taken from a flight from Kuredu Island Resort to Malé International Airport.
The video below features a West Coast Air de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter on approach and landing at the Vancouver Harbour Water Airport Its a sight to see.
Here is a video from Air Labrador that features the Twin Otter flying across Newfoundland and Labrador with an impressive short landing on an icy and snow packed landing strip.
Watch this de Havilland Twin Otter perform a snow landing at Mt. Vinson base camp in Antartica from the cockpit view.
Bernie Sharpe from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada voted the DeHavilland Twin Otter as his favorite bush plane: "The twin otter would be my favorite plane. I had worked for a company called north Canadian airlines (Norcanair) in 1979 and I was based on Martin lake ,Uranium City ,northern Saskatchewan and all the plane where on floats. Norcanair flew the single otter, twin otter, beaver and a 172. Flying the shore line of Lake Athabasca in a twin otter 200' up, 200' out @ 120 mph is so awesome. And that's my story!"
Phil from Canada wrote in to let us know he spent 9 years flying in the Arctic and the Twin Otter is "by far" his favorite bush plane.
Brad, who has been a pilot in Canada for 45 years and owns a PA-18 says his dream plane is the Turbo Beaver. But, for the best bush plane, he says it depends on what you want it for and he recommends Twin Otter for large loads.
Tim Whetstone, from the US Minor Outlying Islands could not decide whether his dream plane was the Twin Otter or the Pilatus PC-6 Porter. He said, "I only rode in them in the Amazon, Jungle of Peru and Brasil. I also rode a Twin Otter in Kalimantan (Borneo) when I was an Engineer supervising drilling of oil and gas wells in the Amazon."
Sveinung from Norway, who has been flying about 19 months voted the Twin Otter as his favorite bush plane. If you'd like to vote on a favorite bush plane, go here.
Do you have a great story, an opinion, a tip or a review about this plane? Share it!