The Consolidated Vultee PBY-5A, otherwise known as the Canso, was originally designed and built for the military as a submarine patrol aircraft. The Canso was perfect for the role. It is fully amphibious, allowing it to take-off or land on ground or water, and it had the ability to search the world's oceans for enemy submarines for up to 18 hours without refueling.
When these aircraft left military service, they were either used to carry passengers to/from water destinations, or were converted to the water bombing role. This is where they excelled. The addition of two 400-gallon water tanks, and water pickup probe permitted the Canso to scoop 800-gallon loads of water off a lake near the forest fire and drop the loads in very quick succession. This made the aircraft perfect for Initial Attack and Sustained Action support on large fires.
Buffalo Airways has acquired four such water bombers and retrofitted them with the latest technology in bombing and computerized foam-injection systems. Like the rest of the fleet, these aircraft have been maintained and, where applicable, modified to meet the very demanding standards for Water Bombers that exist today. The Canso has always been, and will continue to be, a very important resource for protecting our Northern forests.