The CC-115 Buffalo aircraft flew an impressive 55 years in the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) from 1967 to 2022.
The first CC-115s were stationed at 429 Squadron in Saint-Hubert, Quebec, where they performed a medium tactical transport role, such as transportation of troops and equipment. In the 1970s, most of the Buffalo fleet were transitioned to search and rescue (SAR) operations at 413 Squadron (Summerside, Prince Edward Island), 424 Squadron (Trenton, Ontario), 440 Squadron (Edmonton, Alberta) and 442 Squadron (Comox, British Columbia). As a SAR aircraft, the Buffalo was capable of performing searches over land and sea, supporting rescues and searches with illumination flares, as well as parachuting SAR Technicians, rescue supplies and equipment to aeronautical and marine emergencies. It was also used for medical evacuations and transport.
The Buffalo also participated in exercises and operations around the world. On August 9, 1974, while on a peacekeeping mission, an unarmed CC-115 Buffalo was shot down by Syrian missiles during a regular resupply mission in the Middle East. All nine Canadian peacekeepers onboard were killed. It was the largest single-day loss of Canadian Armed Forces personnel in a peace support operation and led to the establishment of National Peacekeepers' Day, which is marked annually in Canada on August 9.
By the early 2000s, the remaining Buffalo fleet was based entirely at 442 Squadron where it served a vast territory from British Columbia to the Yukon, and from the Rocky Mountains to 1,200 kilometers out over the Pacific Ocean. The aircraft’s agility and all-weather capabilities were well suited for the rough and mountainous terrain on Canada’s West Coast because it could take off and land on rugged strips as short as a soccer field. It was also known for “valley shoots” where the aircraft could slowly descend from a mountain top to sea level.