In March of 1953 a team of Canadian engineers began work on what would be the fastest and most advanced aircraft of its time. This aircraft was being designed to a RCAF requirement for an all-weather interceptor capable of travelling at Mach 1.5 at 50,000 ft, specifications that were deemed impossible by most manufacturers at the time. The CF-105 Avro Arrow was rolled out for the public on Oct 4 1957, and the first Arrow took flight in March of 1958.
Designed to answer the RCAF’s “impossible spec” of Mach 1.5 at 50,000 ft. The arrow hit Mach 1.98 at 50,000 ft and was able to break the sound barrier in a steep climb, something most other aircraft of the time could only accomplish in a dive, all this with a lower powered American engine. The higher powered Iroquois engine designed for the arrow was believed to be able to push the Arrow to over Mach 2. Performance on par with modern aircraft.
Not only fast, the Arrow was the first fly by wire jet aircraft, and its weapons payload rivaled that of a WW2 B-17 Bomber.
On Feb 20 1959, a day known as Black Friday in the Canadian aviation industry the decision was made by the Canadian government to cancel the Arrow program in favour of American Bomarc missiles, and F-101 Voodoo aircraft. Neither matched the capability of the Arrow. Over 14,000 people lost their jobs, many of the projects engineers were scooped up by foreign groups such as NASA and contributed to the space program and design of the lunar excursion module, the aircraft themselves were destroyed with only a few parts of wings, and the cockpit of RL 206 (the arrow that was to be equipped with the Iroquois engine), survived having been smuggled out of the factory and stored. Later these pieces would be moved to the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum. In a report published 2 years after the aircraft were destroyed the Canadian Armament Research & Development Established reported that the Arrow had met 95% of its specification in only 72 hours of test flights.
These would be the last remnants of one of Canada’s greatest achievements the public would ever see. Until now.
Although the aircraft themselves were lost to the chopping block, there are other pieces of the Arrows story that have remained hidden. During development several scale models of the Arrow’s airframe were launched over Lake Ontario attached to large booster rockets in order to study the stability of the aircraft at high speeds.
In July of 2017 a new project was launched called “Raise the Arrow” lead by John Burzynski’s OEX Recovery Group Incorporated. Canadian companies Kraken sonar, and Scarlett Janusas Archaeology Inc. were contracted by OEX to search an area of Lake Ontario off of Prince Edward County. To date the search has located over 400 targets on the Lake bed, with more area to be covered next year.
This September Shark Marine Technologies Inc. was contacted by Kraken Sonar to participate in the search using one of our Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROV) “Barracuda” to ground truth targets. Using the Barracuda deployed from Shark’s survey vessel the team from Shark Marine along with Scarlett Janusas were able to inspect 81 of the targets provided by Kraken’s team in 8 days using Our Total Navigation System, Forward Looking Sonar and HD Video.
These Targets included Nike Boosters, other boosters, Velvet Glove Missiles, Test Tracking Vehicles (TTVs) as well as other military and other assorted debris and geo-physical targets.
Shark Marine is proud to be a part of this expedition and have the opportunity help to locate some missing parts of our heritage. We will update this post with more information, images and videos as the project continues, be sure to check back often.