An intriguing piece of experimental aviation history is currently available for purchase. The extensively modified de Havilland Canada C-8A Buffalo aircraft, which served under NASA for approximately two decades, is currently listed for auction by the General Services Administration (GSA). The War Zone reports that the highest bid stands at $10,001, with the auction slated to conclude on December 21st.
Originally acquired by NASA in 1974, the de Havilland Canada aircraft underwent significant modifications to explore new concepts for short take-off and landing (STOL) aircraft, specifically designed for operation at inner-city airports with limited runway space. The aircraft’s transformation included the installation of unique swept wings and four Lycoming YE-102 turbofan engines, positioned above the wings. Boeing was enlisted by NASA to design these distinctive wings, and the engines were procured from a retired Northrop A-9A prototype aircraft.
Having made its maiden flight in July 1978, the modified aircraft played a crucial role in collecting test data for future STOL aircraft. Its exceptional features also made it suitable for a series of test flights from the USS Kitty Hawk aircraft carrier on behalf of the US Navy. Each engine had a thrust capability of up to 7,500 lbs, and the wing design, coupled with an advanced flap system, enabled the aircraft to take off at low speeds and on short runways, with ground rolls as brief as 664 feet and landings as short as 550 feet. Notably, the aircraft’s ability to execute steep approaches resulted in a remarkable reduction of noise pollution by up to 90%.
As per Airport Data, the de Havilland Canada C-8A Buffalo, bearing the registration N715NA, conducted its last flight in 1993. Currently housed at NASA’s Ames Research Center at Moffett Federal Airfield in California, the aircraft served as a global ambassador throughout its operational lifespan, showcasing its military and commercial capabilities. Its legacy even extended internationally, inspiring Japan to develop its own STOL prototype in 1985—a modified Kawasaki C-1, known as Asuka.