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Iconic CC-115 Buffalo flies final mission off B.C. coast

442 Squadron CFB Comox search and rescue plane phased out of service after more than 50 years
A CC-115 Buffalo from 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron out of CFB Comox on a training exercise in Chilliwack on June 16, 2021. The Buffalo flew its final search and rescue mission on Jan. 15 2022. (William Snow photo)

The iconic CC-115 Buffalo flew its final 442 Squadron mission at CFB Comox on Saturday, Jan. 15.

Its ‘final flight’ was a routine practice session over the skies of the Comox Valley and along the eastern coast of Vancouver Island.

Training included search and rescue technician parachute jumps and parachuting of emergency equipment as the aircraft visited locations around Vancouver Island.

The CC-115 entered service in 1967 and has been flown by the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) for 55 years. The aircraft initially served in the RCAF as multi-purpose transportation aircraft and was flown on multiple United Nations missions overseas. In the 1970s it was converted to a dual role transport/search and rescue aircraft, before being exclusively flown in Canada as a fixed-wing search and rescue aircraft. The CC-115 has been flown by 429, 413, 424, 440 and 442 Squadrons in the RCAF.

“The CC-115 Buffalo entered service in the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1967 and has been used for search and rescue operations since 1975,” said 19 Wing Comox base commander Lt.-Col. Rhonda Stevens. “Canadians, especially on the West Coast, will recognize the aircraft for its distinctive search and rescue paint scheme that was likely a welcome sight for many requiring life-saving rescue throughout its distinguished service. A special thank you to all those who served on this aircraft; for your remarkable expertise and professionalism. Buffalo crews and maintainers have a lot in common with their aircraft, as they are both known for being hardy and resilient!”

While work continues to prepare the CC-295 Kingfisher aircraft for its new role as Canada’s fixed-wing search and rescue aircraft, interim search and rescue coverage for the Search and Rescue Region Victoria will be provided by the CC-130H Hercules fleet. Aircraft from 435 Transport and Rescue Squadron will augment 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron to ensure consistent fixed-wing search and rescue coverage.

The Department of National Defence will retain three CC-115 Buffalo aircraft as historical artifacts to fulfill the departmental obligations towards history and heritage. The remaining aircraft have been or will be transferred to museums or used as training aids.