The Avro Arrow was Canada’s shot at the big leagues; the country’s chance to be a world leader.
“We were building one that was going to be equal to or better than what the big boys, the Americans the Russians and British, were building at the time,” explained Dr. Richard Mayne, a historian with the Royal Canadian Air Force Museum at CFB Trenton.
Nine three-metre long models were test fired at a military site. The landing strip used during the aerodynamic testing is still intact at Point Petre.
But the Arrow only ever made it to the testing phase. The project was scrapped by the Diefenbaker government.
Mired in controversy, the government of the day suggested it was a cost-cutting measure as the program was taking up nearly 25 per cent of the Air Force’s annual budget.
“These models are tremendously significant. They’re actually the Holy Grail of aero artefacts,” said Mayne.
On Friday, a new Avro Arrow mission was launched.
The exploration, called “Raise the Arrow,” began with the launch of the Thunder-Fish, an autonomous underwater vehicle, a programmable submarine, that will survey the area in Lake Ontario thought to contain the missing free-flight test models.
The search-and-recovery project is a Canada 150 collaborative effort spearheaded by OEX Recovery Group Inc. The initiative is entirely funded by a group of Canadian mining companies and financial institutions.
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John Burzynski is spearheading the project and says the arrow represents what Canadians have done and what Canadians can do.
“There is one particularly important model that is an exact scale replica of the flying jet and we would love to find that one.”
If the team recovers the Avro test model it will be put on display at the Royal Canadian Air Force Museum located at CFB Trenton as well as the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum in Ottawa.
“We are really pushing history and heritage for the Royal Canadian Air Force because I think through your past you can learn but you can actually help project that into the future,” explained Brig.- Gen. Scott Howden.
It’s believed nine free-flight arrows rest at the bottom of Lake Ontario.