Andrew Hibbert knows they’re down there somewhere. At the bottom of Lake Ontario, with more than 50 years’ worth of zebra mussels clinging to their hulls, sit nine models of the Avro Arrow.
The models were part of a program to test the hull design of the legendary Canadian plane, cancelled before it could truly soar. Strapped to high-powered booster rockets, the 10-foot models weighed nearly 500 pounds and flew over Lake Ontario at supersonic speeds. Their onboard sensors — revolutionary for the 1950s — relayed information back to the launch site at Point Petre, in Prince Edward County.
The models represent a key part of the development of the scrapped plane project.
The Avro Arrow made its first flight in 1958. The interceptor was widely regarded as ahead of its time in terms of aerospace technology. Its Malton plant employed nearly 15,000 people.
But development was cancelled abruptly in 1959, after five Arrows had flown. All were ordered destroyed, along with any documentation and related equipment.
The models, however, were safe from the scrubbing, protected by 30 metres of water.
Eleven models were tested in total: nine at Point Petre and two in Virginia. None has been recovered yet, but that hasn’t stopped so-called “Arrowheads” from hunting for them, often at great cost of both treasure and time.
Update: Colby Cosh is always good for summarizing:
I’m friendly with a local insane man who’s fixated on the Avro Arrow. There must be hundreds of these guys. It’s our Napoleon-hat.
— Colby Cosh (@colbycosh) January 3, 2013
I put it in a more wordy form in an earlier posting:
Even people who care less than nothing about aircraft or military technology seem to have opinions about the Avro Arrow (usually allowing them to take free shots at former Prime Minister John Diefenbaker for the decision to scrap the plane). It’s far enough in the past that the facts are more than obscured by the myths of the cottage conspiracy theory industry (artisanal Canadian myth-making, hand-woven, fair-trade, and 100% organic).