A model of the Avro Arrow that was launched at some point between 1954 and 1957 over Lake Ontario was found by the Raise the Arrow search crew. "We are very pleased and tremendously proud to announce we have discovered the first example of one of the free-flight Arrow models, said John Burzynski, Raise the Arrow expedition leader and CEO of Osisko Mining". Images show orange paint, a hallmark of the treasured Canadian technology, still intact and peeking through the zebra mussels that nearly entirely cover its surface.
The sonar images and video, captured by a remote-operated vehicle, show a murky descent of about 30 to 40 metres to the bottom of Lake Ontario where the damaged free-flight model is visible lying upside down.
Due to poor weather conditions, the team has only had a "solid two weeks" of search since the expedition was announced in July, said David Shea, vice-president of engineering at Kraken Sonar, the Newfoundland and Labrador company aiding with the search.
The program to develop and build Canada's first and only supersonic interceptor, just as the Cold War began roaring to life, was aimed at countering potential Soviet bomber attacks in North America's Arctic.
Over 60 years ago, nine models were launched into the Great Lake to test their flight design.
The Arrow was a fighter jet developed in the 1950s that was lauded as a groundbreaking technological achievement before the program's controversial cancellation by the Diefenbaker government in 1959. The completed jets and production tooling were all ordered destroyed.
Burzynski refused to wade in the debate around the wisdom of a decision he said must have left the "bitter taste of defeat" in the mouths of those who had worked on the showcase program. "For generations, Arrow's story has fascinated many of us and become something dear to many Canadians".
Raise the Arrow plans to eventually "raise" the test model from the bottom of the lake.
An archaeological team led by Scarlett Janusas will now get to work on recovering the model. The researchers plan to continue combing the bottom of Lake Ontario for pieces of the remaining test models before the end of fall.
"There is lots to do".
The one-eighth scale models will be kept at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum in Ottawa and the National Air Force Museum of Canada in Trenton, according to the group Raise the Arrow. "We hope to find the rest in the continuation of our project and bring them back to the public in Canada", Burzynski said.
The museums, in collaboration with the Canadian Conservation Institute, will provide historical information to support the conservation, treatment, and collection of any recovered models or materials. The RCAF, the Canadian Coast Guard, the Ontario Ministry of Tourism and the Canada Aviation and Space Museum have also contributed to the mission.