Avro Arrow recovery no lame-duck mission
The fate of the Avro Arrow, ignominiously scrapped in 1959, has always prompted the question: What if we’d kept the program?
“Would Canada still be competing in modern fighter design of our own aircraft today?” Richard Mayne, director of Royal Canadian Air Force History and Heritage, recently wondered aloud.
Good question — and it’s relevant even in modern times, as the Liberal government continues to botch military procurement. There’s a great deal of nostalgia about the Arrow, the sophisticated interceptor developed in the 1950s to counter potential Soviet attacks in the Arctic. People still get into passionate arguments about whether the federal Conservative government of that era was right to put an end to it.
But set aside the politics, both past and present, for a moment. There’s a project underway that all Canadians should rally behind. Recently, a submarine began scouring 64 square kilometres of Lake Ontario to try to find nine models of the famous fighter jet. The initiative is part of Canada 150 celebrations.
These models are somewhere in the depths, having crashed after being fired out over the lake in the 1950s from a military base. Using military-grade sonar, the researchers are hoping to find them (and may well stumble across two other plane crashes and shipwrecks from the 18th and 19th centuries).
What a fascinating glimpse into our history. And what a wonderful way to raise awareness of our past military history and technological prowess.
Should the models be recovered, they’ll be put on display at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum here in Ottawa, and at the National Air Force Museum of Canada, just down the highway in Trenton. Let’s wish these modern-day salvagers success.
Of course, the models are unlikely to be in one piece, so there will be a whole process of figuring out how they can be brought back to the surface without sustaining further damage.
Some may question the logic of scoping out the bottom of the lake for a fighter jet model that’s been down there for some six decades. But we don’t. This is a bold and patriotic undertaking.
A great nation should make the effort to explore its past, recover its artifacts and celebrate its history. We need to recover and revere symbols of genuine achievement.
Who knows what the searchers will find; maybe nothing. But it’s a worthier effort than, say, checking out a giant rubber duck. It speaks to both our aviation past and our future.