Home Classic Airliners Plane Savers! Behind the Scenes at Buffalo Airways, and Saving a D-Day DC-3

Plane Savers! Behind the Scenes at Buffalo Airways, and Saving a D-Day DC-3

by Matt Falcus

FlugKerl2 [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], from Wikimedia Commons

Fans of the Ice Pilots NWT TV show that ran from 2009-2014 and followed life behind the scenes at Buffalo Airways may be interested to know that there’s another show being broadcast daily taking you inside the hangars at this interesting airline up in Yellowknife, Canada.

The new show is uploaded to YouTube almost every day and is filmed by Mikey McBryan, one of the guys that runs Buffalo Airways under the ownership of his father “Buffalo” Joe McBryan.

If you don’t know, Buffalo Airways operates classic piston airliners like the Curtiss C-46, Douglas DC-3 and Lockheed Electra up in the frozen north of Canada on cargo charters and firefighting sorties (among many other things), and its hangar has become something of a Mecca for fans of old props who want to see these lovely old birds.


Because this year is the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion, in which the Douglas C-47 (militarised DC-3) played such a big part, Mikey McBryan has set about returning a forlorn aircraft which was a veteran of D-Day to flight. It is this plight which formed the basis for the show, in order to raise awareness, funds, and chart the progress being made on the project.

However, much to the delight of Ice Pilots fans, this has turned into a regular look at the operation of Buffalo Airways, from visiting its aircraft cockpits and wandering around the hangar, to delving into the spare parts department and catching up with some of the staff who made the show so memorable (Buffalo Joe, Rod, Chuck… they’re all still there!).

Along the way we’re getting updates on the progress with the aircraft, as well as looking at other projects from around the world and hearing from fans who are offering support in different ways.


The Aircraft

The DC-3 being saved is CF-DTD (cn 12253) which has sat out in the cold at Montreal St. Hubert airport for a long time. The previous owner has sold the aircraft to Mikey, but is still offering support with the project.

Previously flying as FZ668, it departed RAF Blakehill Farm on D-Day and returned safely.


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Well folks, I bought a “new” DC-3. This isn’t just any regular goonybird though. This bird flew in the D-Day invasion! Her log books (FZ668) even mention she dropped 12 twenty pound bombs as she flew to her drop site that morning. Making her a D-Day “Bomber”. She hasn’t flown in almost 30 years and guess what… we are going to try and fly her on the 75th Anniversary of D-Day where she sits in Montreal. This will be a huge undertaking as this aircraft has been stripped out over the past three decades. But luckily enough we know where is lots of DC-3 parts. After that we plan to fly her to Oshkosh Airventure 2019 so you guys can see her in person. Aircraft History: this aircraft was built in January 1944 by Douglas Aircraft Company at their plant in Oklahoma City. S/N 12253, C-47A-5-DK, tail number 42-92451. The RAF registration FZ668 was subsequently assigned to her when she was based in Europe. The Night before D-Day on June 5th 1944, FZ668, this Dakota, took off at 23:20 as one of a fleet of 108 RAF C-47s whose mission was to neutralize the German forces behind the beaches to be used for the landings. Her crew was F/O Nicholl, F/O Dale, F / s Marsden and Sgt Caves. On board FZ668, bearing the chalk number 253 for this operation, twelve 20-pound bombs, “a small surprise for the troops defending the coast in France” as it was referred to in the operation log of the squadron, were dropped when crossing the French coast. Seventeen paratroopers jumped at around 00:50 on DZ “K” located near Toufreville that morning on D-Day. 
Their objective was to destroy the bridges over the Dive River. The paratroopers were split into two groups and met strong German resistance. The bridges were destroyed by engineers and the battle for the liberation of Europe began. FZ668 landed safely back at Blakehill Farm at 3:10. On top of D-Day this Aircraft also flew 5 mission during the operation Market-Garden. After the war, she was purchased by Canadair, converted as DC-3C and flew for Trans-Canada Airlines as CF-TER During the 70’s she was acquired by Transport Canada who flew her until the early 90’S as CF-DTD. Aircraft location: CYHU – St-Hubert Airport, Montreal, Canada

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CF-DTD Douglas C-47A c/n 12253 ex 42-92451

In later life it flew for Trans Canada Airlines and the Department of Transportat, but has been idle and gathering snow since the 1990s.

In Mikey’s own words, “This will be a huge undertaking as this aircraft has been stripped out over the past three decades.” He adds: “But luckily enough we know where is lots of DC-3 parts.”

Once returned to the air, CF-DTD will be flown to Oshkosh 2019 so that fans can get up close to her. She won’t be attending the Daks Over Normandy event in Europe.


Where to Watch

Plane Savers is published on Mikey McBryan’s YouTube channel. Make sure you subscribe to receive notifications about when each episode is published.

It’s currently at episode 30 (at the time of writing), but that shouldn’t take too long to catch up on as each episode is usually 10-15 minutes in length. He’s hoping to keep going until June when the aircraft is (hopefully) flown!

Here’s the link to the channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvFNTUDikuXwaoFE45bq4Xg

If you want to start at the beginning, here is episode 0, the prologue…




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1 comment

Chris Calver February 21, 2019 - 3:01 am

Hi Mikey. Just caught your 50th episode. My dad worked on the arrow. Sad day for sure. He lives in eastern Ontario and has quite a collection of arrow stuff. He has an 8 foot arrow in his side yard. It is just beautiful.Nice to see you keeping the old birds alive. Thx.


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