Home CFB Borden Have you heard of the Avro Arrow?

Have you heard of the Avro Arrow?

In the 1950s, the RCAF was looking for a Mach 2 interceptor that could fly at 50,000 feet. Nobody else in the world could build it. Guided tours at The Canadian Air and Space Conservancy Museum in Stayner, Ont. can take you on the incredible journey from the inception of the most technologically advanced aircraft in the world of its time, to its tragic demise.

The CF-105 Arrow was a twin engine, long range, high wing delta supersonic interceptor, designed and built by A.V. Roe (Avro) Canada. Its mission in wartime was to prevent attack from incoming enemy aircraft travelling across the North Pole, over Canada and into the United States. Following five years of work and planning and 17,000 blueprints, the Arrow soared into the skies for the first time.

Originally the Arrow was to be powered by the Rolls Royce RB106 engines, but that project was cancelled in 1957. So, Avro made the decision to design and build a brand new all-Canadian engine called the Orenda Iroquois PS13. The first five planes however, were equipped with readily available Pratt and Whitney J75 engines to speed up the flight-testing process.

On its first test flight, the Arrow broke four different world speed records and went on to record a top speed of Mach 1.98 at 50,000 feet on just the 14th flight. Once fitted with the lighter and more powerful Iroquois engines, projections were the plane would easily exceed Mach 2 at 60,000 feet or more.

So much of the innovative technology developed during this program is still in use today by manufacturers around the world.

Unfortunately, it had a very short flying career; 66 flights over an eleven-month period. On Black Friday (20 February, 1959), the government terminated the whole program and put approximately 25,000 people out of work. Several of the employees found jobs at NASA and aircraft manufacturers in the US and Britain.

Although the Arrow never flew with the Iroquois engine, it was flight tested on a B-47 Bomber on loan from the US Air Force. One engine was fitted to the starboard side of the fuselage, and it was so powerful that it twisted the airframe during its 35 hours of testing.

The Canadian Air and Space Conservancy Museum has moved from Downsview to the Edenvale Aerodrome. The museum’s exhibits include the only full size replica of the infamous Avro Arrow plus a 1942 DeHavilland Tiger Moth, a 1969 Kiowa helicopter, a Rolls Royce Merlin engine from a Lancaster bomber, as well as many other artifacts. There is also a gift shop stocked with Arrow-related merchandise for sale.

The museum offers tours every Wednesday through Friday at 2:00 p.m. Each tour lasts approximately one hour. Please register online at www.avroarrow203.com.

Edenvale Aerodrome is conveniently located at 5195 Highway 26 East, minutes from Stayner and Wasaga Beach.

 By: Aura Arias, Director, Canadian Air & Space Conservancy Museum

Photo courtesy of Canadian Air & Space Conservancy Museum