The Universal Airplanes: Otter & Twin Otter,by Sean Rossiter, Douglas & McIntyre, Vancouver, 1998, $34.95.
The de Havilland of Canada DHC-2 Beaver, with its beefy, 450-hp radial engine and fat, cigar-shaped fuselage fitted with either wheels, skis or floats, has been called the world’s greatest bush plane. Sometimes it is best not to try to improve upon perfection, but de Havilland forged ahead to build a bigger, better bush plane, one with twice the capacity and payload of the Beaver. It worked. The DHC-3 Otter became highly successful as a freight and people carrier in the far north and elsewhere where “civilized” landing facilities were scarce. Of particular interest in Rossiter’s book is the section on the jet Otter, featuring an experimental in-fuselage jet engine whose thrust was vented through nozzles sticking out of each side of the aircraft that could be aimed to assist lift for steeper, slower landing approaches or to augment takeoff thrust of the regular engine.
Then, to top off its success with the Otter, de Havilland came up with an upscale model called the Twin Otter that had two 600-shp turboprop engines in place of the previous single 600-hp radial engine. These had uses well beyond bush flying and can still be seen today in feeder-line and air-taxi operations. Rossiter provides more than nuts-and-bolts facts, supplying fascinating details about the people who designed, built and used these airplanes–a good balance in a well-illustrated book. Makes us want to look for the author’s previous book on the Otter’s predecessor–The Immortal Beaver: The World’s Best Bush Plane.
Arthur H. Sanfelici