Operator Stories

We would love to hear about your operation with Twin Otters or other Viking aircraft types and share it with the Viking operator community. Please email us your story (ideally with some great pictures) and we'll publish it here.

Here's the latest story. 

Emergency Medical Evacuation in the Antarctic Winter

Ken Borek Air Twin Otter landed on snowWhen two support crew members of the National Science Foundation required emergency medical evacuation from an Antarctic research station at the South Pole in the dead of Antarctic winter, there was only one aircraft capable of the job.

From March to September, the Antarctic is blanketed in darkness 24 hours a day, and temperatures regularly reach -60ºC. Normally, no flights are carried out during this timeframe due to the extreme conditions, however when two workers required emergency medical evacuation from the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station located in the heart of the frozen continent, the Twin Otter was up to the task.

On June 22nd, 2016, two of Kenn Borek Air's Twin Otters, powered by twin PT6A-34 engines, were deployed from their base in Calgary, Alberta to carry out the high-stakes mission.

The requirement of two aircraft highlights the safety concerns of this mission; while one Twin Otter flew from Rothera to the research station for the rescue, the other remained on stand-by in Rothera, ready to step-in should the first plane fail during the course of the evacuation. The 2,400-kilometre (1500-mile), nine hour flight from Rothera to the South Pole station would have been impossible without the world's most versatile and dependable aircraft. Despite the challenges and uncertainty of the flight, the Kenn Borek crew successfully rescued the two workers and transported them to a hospital in Chile for treatment.

The Twin Otter is designed for special missions of all types. From Kenn Borek's Antarctic polar winter rescue in 2001 to the daring emergency medevac mission in 2016, the Twin Otter has been a trusted and vital piece of flight operations in Antarctica.

Resupply & Reconnaissance in the Arctic and Antarctic

“From 1979 to 1982 I was the Marine Navigating Officer for the Transglobe Expedition, a surface circumnavigation of the world along its polar axis (over the south and north poles). We used a Twin Otter aircraft for resupply and reconnaissance in both the Antarctic and Arctic portions of the expedition.

Rather than relate the story to you by this email, here is the link to the Transglobe Expedition web site aircraft page which has the full story and some excellent photographs."

Here is an excerpt from the Transglobe Expedition website, linked above:

"In selecting an aircraft for use on the Transglobe Expedition’s Antarctic and Arctic phases several important factors had to be taken into account. The aircraft had to be both mechanically reliable and well proved as it is a single aircraft operation. It also had to be able to withstand landing and take off in far from ideal ground and ice surface conditions.

It had to have sufficient range and payload to resupply the ice group during the crossings on both polar ice caps and, most importantly, the aircraft had to have a short take off and landing capability due to the lack of large flat areas in the regions in which the ice group would be operating. Taking all these points into consideration, it was decided that the de Havilland of Canada Twin Otter was the ideal aircraft."


Fighting Forest Fires in Remote Wilderness

US Forest Service - Twin Otter Story"We, the US Forest Service, operate two DHC-6-300 Twin Otters, whose primary mission is to support smokejumper operations for wildland firefighting. These two ships “stand ready” in McCall, Idaho at the McCall Smokejumper Base on the Payette National Forest. They take brave crews in to the otherwise inaccessible wilderness to fight fire. Orbiting at 1500ft AGL, streamers are dropped to judge the winds, then the Captain and Spotter formulate the best pattern for a jump considering meteorological conditions and surrounding terrain. Once jumpers are on the ground, the aircraft transitions to paracargo.

The Twin Otter sets up for cargo drops just above tree top level to deliver fire fighting tools, food, and water as firefighters will be on their own for a few days. Smokejumper operations are performed with the forward cargo door removed and a step attached to the outside and the canvas flap is just used overnight to keep rain and dust out of the cabin. The two black rectangles on the side are special fairings to cover the aft door hinges in order to prevent damage to the static lines."

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