CC-115 Buffalo search and rescue aircraft flies its last mission in Canada

Paul Drabot/

The Royal Canadian Air Force has retired its De Havilland Canada DHC-5 Buffalo aircraft. Its last operational mission took place on January 15, 2021. 

The search and rescue aircraft, known in Canada as the CC-115, was operated by the 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron based at Comox air base on Vancouver Island, British Columbia.  

The CC-115 entered service in 1967. It succeeded another De Havilland Canada aircraft, the DHC-4 Caribou. As such, the utility transport aircraft needed to be agile, and capable of operating from almost any runway. Its half-century of service life is a testimony to its efficiency, having saved countless lives over the years in areas such as the Arctic Sea and the great snowy plains of Canada, even all the way to the Rocky Mountains.  

It was also used in several United Nations missions overseas. On August 9, 1974, an unarmed CC-115 Buffalo, deployed as part of the UN peacekeeping mission to supervise the ceasefire between Egyptian and Israeli forces, was shot down by three Syrian missiles. The nine occupants, all Canadian servicemembers, were all killed. Since 2008, August 9 is recognized as Peacekeepers’ Day in Canada. 

“In the Royal Canadian Air Force, we have incredible respect and a deep sense of pride for the crews, maintenance and support personnel who have dutifully served alongside the CC-115 Buffalo aircraft over the 55 last years,” commented Lieutenant-General Al Meinzinger, Commander of the Royal Canadian Air Force. “These extraordinary teams, and the ‘Buff’ itself, are known to have operated in many demanding operational environments.” 

The Buff will eventually be replaced by a fleet of 16 Airbus CC-295 Kingfisher. In the meantime, the CC-130H Hercules will take over some of the CC-115 missions. 

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