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The de Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver is a single-engined high-wing propeller-driven short take off and landing (STOL) aircraft developed and manufactured by aircraft company de Havilland Canada. It has been primarily operated as a bush plane and has been used for wide variety of utility roles, such as cargo and passenger hauling, aerial application (crop dusting and aerial topdressing), and civil aviation duties.
Shortly after the end of the Second World War, de Havilland Canada made the decision to orient itself towards civilian operators. Based upon feedback from pilots, the company decided that the envisioned aircraft should have excellent STOL performance, all-metal construction, and accommodate many features sought by the operators of bush planes. On 16 August 1947, the maiden flight of the aircraft, which had received the designation DHC-2 Beaver, took place. In April 1948, the first production aircraft was delivered to the Ontario Department of Lands and Forests.
In addition to its use in civilian operations, the Beaver has been widely adopted by armed forces as a utility aircraft. The United States Army purchased several hundred aircraft; nine DHC-2s are still in service with the U.S. Air Force Auxiliary (Civil Air Patrol) for search and rescue. A Royal New Zealand Air Force Beaver supported Sir Edmund Hillary’s expedition to the South Pole. By 1967, in excess of 1,600 Beavers had been constructed prior to the closure of the original assembly line. Various aircraft have been re-manufactured and upgraded. Additionally, various proposals have been mooted to return the Beaver to production.
The Beaver has become one of the more iconic aircraft to have been produced in Canada. Perhaps one of the more significant events involving the type occurred in 1958, when a Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) Beaver played a supporting role in Sir Edmund Hiliary’s famous Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition to the South Pole. Due to its success, the Royal Canadian Mint commemorated the aircraft on a special edition Canadian quarter in November 1999. In 1987, the Canadian Engineering Centennial Board named the DHC-2 one of the top ten Canadian engineering achievements of the 20th century. Large numbers continue to be operational into the 21st century, while the tooling and type certificate for the Beaver have been acquired by Viking Air who continue to produce replacement components and refurbish examples of the type.