3 Beaver Float Planes!
No See Um owns and operates three of the finest examples of the De Havilland Beaver. This famous bush plane is the backbone of most fishing operations and has become the preferred aircraft for operating in and out of small lakes and rivers. The success of this plane is in the design and rugged construction. Originally designed to be a float plane, it first flew in 1947. It’s powerful engine and superb wing design proved to be a perfect combination for both bush pilots and the US military. Until the early 1970’s the military was the main buyer of Beavers. Used mainly as trainers and observation craft, they are credited with some amazing feats that could only be topped by their eventual replacement, the helicopter. Only 1,692 of these planes were built and most are still in service around the world. No See Um Lodge is known for having the nicest airplanes available. Jack decided that if he was going to buy an airplane he ought to buy a good one. He started with a Cessna 180, moved into a 185 then into a 206. Eventually he had three 206’s and might still if he hadn’t realized the benefits of the Beaver.
Our fleet started with N99NL, serial number 1597 and build in 1967, she started life as a crop duster in Australia then moved into flight seeing and air taxi work. After three major wrecks she was left to rot and eventually purchased and exported to Alaska. We bought the remains in 1998 and had her completely rebuilt. We had many modern modifications incorporated in the rebuild including the Alaska Door, three window cabin extension, electric flaps and Vortex generators to name a few and was placed into service in 1999. As of 2012, we have flown 9NL over 2000 hours and she looks almost as good as she did in ’99.
N65223 came on in 2001. Serial number 996, built in 1954 and delivered to the US Army in 1956. Used as a trainer until 1974 when she was mothballed until being purchased in 1980 by Wipaire Inc., a beaver rebuild shop in Minnesota. They rebuilt her as their demonstration platform to showcase all the various modifications they had available at the time. When we found her she was in storage in Chico California, owned by a doctor that rarely flew and needed some serious attention. After getting her to Alaska we installed a new engine, interior and floats. She has proven over the years to be a very solid, excellent performing aircraft.
N1487 joined us for 2011. Serial number 1487, built in 1961 and delivered to the Republic of Ghana. Really no telling what sort of flying she did but it wasn’t much as she next appeared in Cairns, Australia as an air taxi float plane. Again there is no real record of what the job entailed but again there was little use and in 1999 she was imported to Seattle, WA with just over 3,000 total flight hours. The average number of hours on a Beaver in 2012 is around 25,000 so she was still like new. Sitka Air began a complete rebuild project in 2005. As she was in salt water, the entire aircraft needed re-skinning. We bought her in 2008 and she was finished in 2011 and put into service. She has just over 3,000 total flight hours making her possibly the lowest time beaver in the world. Just to give some perspective on Beavers, a new one off the assembly line was $25,000, in 1997 the average price tag was $250,000-350,000. To own a fleet of Beavers of the class we have, we don’t like to think about the price. We LOVE our Beavers!!