Ice Pilots NWT’s Mikey McBryan, alongside a group of soldiers, completed a parachute jump out of one of Buffalo Airways’ Second World War-era planes Friday morning to commemorate the exploits of Canadian airborne troops on D-Day.
On June 6th, 1944, the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion was part of a division that dropped behind German lines to support the landings of Allied forces on the beaches of Normandy, France.
To mark their service, 16 soldiers of the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry made a low-altitude jump from an old D-C-3 transport plane into the freezing waters of Abraham Lake, west of Red Deer, Alta.
Buffalo Airway's general manager Mikey McBryan also took the plunge.
"Anyone who has a DC-3 kind of says, ‘This is an airplane that flew in Normandy,’ but the actuality is, they are pretty rare,” McBryan says. “This one we have, WZS, was KG330 … was on the technical squadron for the Royal Air Force and it's one of a few survivors that is currently flying and the last commercial DC3 still flying that was in D-Day."
The DC-3 is an old Royal Air Force Douglas Dakota. It has since been refurbished and is now flown for commercial transport by Yellowknife-based Buffalo Airways.
McBryan says the plane has been outfitted the same way it was when it flew over Normandy.
Footage from the jump will be shown in next season’s finale of Ice Pilots NWT.
Abraham Lake was selected as the safest drop zone for the troops, who wore wetsuits.
A group of veterans, including some former paratroopers, watched the drop from near a mountain named in honour of the battalion.
The mountain is called Ex Coelis, which is Latin for Out of the Clouds.