As Seen On TV: A Look At Buffalo Airways’ Classic Fleet

Are you a fan of vintage aircraft? Have you ever wanted to see a historic aircraft like the DC-3 in action? If so, then you needn’t look any further than Buffalo Airways. The Canadian carrier operates several old aircraft types and has even had its own reality television series, titled “Ice Pilots.” Let’s take a brief look at the classic fleet of Buffalo Airways.

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The airline has four Douglas DC-3 aircraft in the fleet. Photo: RAF-YYC via Wikimedia Commons 

The Buffalo Airways fleet at a glance

Let’s first take a look at the composition of the airline’s fleet as a whole. With data from ATDB.aero and the airline’s own website. The aircraft types are listed below with quantities in parentheses:

  • Douglas DC-3 (4)
  • C-46 Curtiss Commando (2)
  • Lockheed L-188 Electra (4)
  • Beech A100 Kingair (4)
  • King Air 90 (2)
  • Beechcraft Baron (2)
  • Twin Commander 690C (2)
  • CL-215 (4)

We should note that there are discrepancies between the two sources, with several types listed on the airline’s website that do not seem to appear on ATDB.aero.

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The airline operates in challenging winter conditions in the Canadian north. Photo: TravellingOtter via Wikimedia Commons 

As seen on TV

For those who may watch the History channel (History Television), The Weather Channel, or National Geographic on TV, Buffalo Airways had its very own reality series. This show was known as Ice Pilots NWT in Canada but simple Ice Pilots in the UK and the US. The NWT in the Canadian-only title stands for Northwest Territories- a vast territory located in northern Canada.

The series followed the challenging activities of the Yellowknife-based charter airline and ran from November 18, 2009, to December 17, 2014, comprising six seasons.

One episode of note was filmed in 2012 and had Iron Maiden frontman (and pilot) Bruce Dickinson visit the carrier in Yellowknife. The musician and 747-certified pilot flew Buffalo Airways’ Douglas DC-3 C-GWZS, which was the last commercially flying DC-3 from D-Day. The airline now calls this particular aircraft “Ed Force 3,” a nod to Dickinson’s naming of a chartered Boeing 747, named Ed Force One, used for an Iron Maiden tour.

Nowadays, when it comes to catching the unique series, it looks like full episodes of this series can be found on YouTube on the channel known as Wonder.

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Connecting northern communities

There comes the point where an airline’s old fleet is no longer referred to as “aging” and is instead considered “classic” or “vintage.” Wherever that threshold is, Buffalo Airways seems to be well past it and most certainly operates a classic fleet of aircraft.

Indeed, ATDB.aero notes that the airline’s Lockheed L-188 Electras are now an average of 61 years old.

While many of the aircraft are well over 60 years of age, the airline itself is a bit younger. Indeed, it has been serving northern Canada since 1970, later starting a courier service, Buffalo Air Express, in 1982. Buffalo Airways identifies itself as the largest courier service in the Northwest Territories, “providing a door-to-door network with over 400 communities in Northern Alberta.”

The airline’s overarching goal is “to keep northern communities served and thriving.” This goal is achieved with its diverse fleet of aircraft for Charter use as well as cargo and freight transport. The airline also utilizes its King Air 100 Aircraft for passenger flights.

Did you know about Buffalo Airways? Did you see this airline on television in the above-mentioned TV series? Let us know by leaving a comment.

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