On today’s date in 1965, the initial flight of de Havilland Canada’s DHC-6 Twin Otter took place in Montréal.
The Twin Otter was built as a twin-engined replacement for the single-engined DHC-3 Otter while retaining its short-take-off-and-landing (STOL) qualities.
According to the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum, a STOL aircraft requires minimal space to take off and touch down on land, water or snow. Its versatility has proven useful for search-and-rescue operations in Arctic regions in the past.
In 2001, a Twin Otter was used by a Canadian civilian aircrew in a rescue mission to Antarctica that made aviation history.
According to an April 2001 story published by The Guardian, it was “one of the most dramatic rescue missions in the history of the Antarctic.”
“In howling winds, pitch-black skies and temperatures approaching -60C, the crew of a Twin Otter landed at the south pole yesterday to save a sick American. It was the first time a plane had touched down there in winter.”
Then 59-year-old Ronald Shemenski was eventually rescued thanks to two de Havilland Twin Otter light aircraft operated by Kenn Borek Air, which is headquartered in Calgary.
In 1999, the Royal Canadian Mint featured the DHC-6 Twin Otter on a $20 Proof silver coin with selective gold plating. Struck using .925 per cent silver, the coin has a diameter of 38 millimetres, a weight of 31.1 grams and a thickness of 3.5 millimetres.