National Treasure #23: Twin Otter

The Twin Otter is a short takeoff and landing (STOL) airplane, designed and built by de Havilland Canada from 1965 to 1988.  Today, Viking Air produces a new series of Twin Otters.

 . . . the Twin Otter is the only airplane flying in Canada built west of Ontario. – Alberta Venture

In use in harsh environments all over the world, the Twin Otter is a distinctive airplane.  It’s also a fixture in our own Arctic.

Four Twin Otters remain in service in support of Canadian Forces Northern Area Headquarters and the Northern Rangers and Cadet programs in the Arctic. Until 1994 Twin Otters fulfilled a Search and Rescue (SAR) role, operated by 440 Squadron in Edmonton, with a detachment in Yellowknife. When 18 Wing Edmonton was closed in 1994, the Squadron relinquished its primary SAR role, but the aircraft has retained its distinctive yellow SAR paint for visibility in the Arctic. – Canadian Encyclopedia

Yellow Twin Otter in hangar in Yellowknife.

Kenn Borek Air has used the Twin Otter in not one, but two, medical rescue missions to the South Pole.

There’s a Twin Otter online archive – I mean, who knew?

There are YouTube videos of Twin Otters in flight. Well, of course there are.

And if all of this has inspired you to to buy a new Twin Otter, check out this site.  After all, it sounds like a good investment . . .

Perhaps the best testament to the Twin Otter’s timelessness is the fact that the airplane, long out of production, continues to be bought and sold with resale values 20 times that of the original price. – Canadian Encyclopedia


This is one of a series on Canadian national treasures – my sesquicentennial project. They reflect people (living and dead), places and things that I think are worth celebrating about our country, and are done in no order of precedence.

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4 Comments

  1. Jim Taylor

    The question begs to be asked: why, if it’s so damn good, did de Havilland quit building it? Is this another instance of the guys in the boardroom knowing what’s best for all the rest of us?
    Jim T

    1. Isabel Gibson

      Jim T – This piece says that Bombardier bought de Havilland and “preferred to concentrate on its larger commercial jets business.” There may be more to the story than that, of course, but a high-overhead company concentrating on a higher-margin market segment wouldn’t be surprising.

  2. Barry Jewell

    Perhaps the market was hurt by the number of airports built to handle faster aircraft that did not have the STOL capabilities of the dHC-6.

    Most isolated communities now have actual airports. and so do not need the tundra tires, floats or skis that can be mounted onto the dHC-6.

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