IN THE NEWS

FRONTLINE IN THE NEWS

Sep 08, 2017

 

"We have discovered the first example of one of the free-flight Arrow models, announced John Burzynski, Raise the Arrow expedition leader and CEO of Osisko Mining.

This free-flight Avro Arrow model was launched over Lake Ontario in the 1950s as part of the Avro Arrow design test program.

OEX Recovery Group Incorporated, which is financially supported by a group of Canadian mining companies and financial institutions, began the "Raise the Arrow" project to search and recover nine free-flight Avro Arrow models known to be in Lake Ontario.

The group is now planning the recovery of this first-found Arrow model. 

"The Arrow is an important – and passionate - part of Canada's aviation and technological history as a reminder of what Canadians are capable of achieving.  We are honoured to be part of this discovery, and would like to thank our sponsors, project participants and supporters for their efforts in making it possible."

Sonar images, pictures and underwater video from a Remote Operated Vehicle are being shown to media and project supporters by the OEX Recovery Group in Toronto today.

The images showcase one of the models from part of the free-flight Avro Arrow test program conducted at Point Petre between 1955 – 1957.  The models were tested as one of the final steps in finalizing the flight design of the ultimate flying Arrow jet.

"We are so proud of our engineers who helped locate an Arrow free-flight model. Our advanced Canadian ocean technology plays a big part in this story, where our world-class underwater sensors and robotics helped find a piece of Canada's aviation history," says Karl Kenny, President and CEO of Kraken Sonar Inc. – a marine technology company engaged in the design, development and marketing of advanced sonar and acoustic velocity sensors for Unmanned Underwater Vehicles used in military and commercial applications.

The sonar images were captured using Kraken's AquaPix Synthetic Aperture Sonar deployed onboard the company's ThunderFish Autonomous Underwater Vehicle.

David Shea, Kraken's VP of Engineering recounted recent events. "The plan was to follow the trajectory of our recently discovered Nike booster rockets, and we prioritized our search grid to focus along the same trajectory. The group decided to conduct a search immediately beyond the location of our previous booster rocket. We had a very productive survey day and were rewarded with a fantastic discovery -- an Avro Arrow model and two more Nike boosters. As all of our sonar processing operates onboard the AUV in real-time, this significantly reduced our overall processing timeline, a critical factor during the search. We could access and view the sonar images immediately after we downloaded the data."

Shea says the "extremely high resolution of our AquaPix sonar made target identification very easy – this was clearly a delta-wing shaped model." Noting that historical footage shows that each model was launched with a Nike booster rocket, Shea explained that "following the 'trail' of booster rockets led us in the right direction."

With the support of archaeologist Scarlett Janusas, OEX will send divers to assess the integrity of the prototypes.

"Proper archaeological examination, recording and preservation work is the next order of events with the model." says Janusas. "The model will stay submerged until the biomass, including organic material and zebra mussels, can be removed."

Any of the free-flight test models that are eventually recovered will be housed at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum in Ottawa and the National Air Force Museum of Canada in Trenton, Ontario.

"The public has always shown a keen interest in the story of the Avro Arrow. We are thrilled to play a role in this partnership to bring the model back to life and to re-engage the public with this important chapter in Canadian aviation history," said Fern Proulx, Interim President and CEO of Ingenium – Canada's Museums of Science and Innovation.

OEX has pledged more than $600,000 to both museums to cover the costs of exhibiting any artifacts the team discovers and recovers.
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 Avro Arrow free-flight models were launched over Lake Ontario in a series of flights conducted between 1954 and 1957. Nine test models (one-eighth scale replicas) of the fighter jet remain on the bottom of Lake Ontario. The Arrow was a symbol of Canadian manufacturing excellence.

The Raise the Arrow project (www.raisethearrow.com) is being led by the OEX Recovery Group Inc., which is sponsored by Osisko group of companies, in collaboration with their financial partners at National Bank, the Bank of Montreal, Canaccord Genuity, Maxit Capital, Eight Capital and Northfield Capital; the Canada Aviation and Space Museum (CASM), Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF), the Canadian Conservation Institute, and Bennett Jones LLP.  Support for this project is also being provided by the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport, Scarlett Janusas Archaeology, Canadian Coast Guard, the Royal Canadian Military Institute and Canada Company.

ABOUT THE AVRO ARROW FREE FLIGHT MODELS

When the Avro Arrow program was cancelled in 1959, all materials related to the project were ordered destroyed. The only known artifacts from the program remaining to be found are the free flight models.

The free flight models were launched over Lake Ontario in a series of flight tests conducted in the 1950s as engineers developed the revolutionary Arrow, which featured a radical delta wing and a Canadian-made jet engine that pushed it past the speed of sound. The free flight models were used in a series of aerodynamic experiments that helped fine-tune the aircraft's flight quality.

The free flight models were attached to high-powered booster rockets and launched out over Lake Ontario from a military test site east of Toronto. After separating from the booster rockets, the models flew at supersonic speeds. Their onboard sensors, revolutionary for the 1950s, transmitted flight data back to engineers on the ground. At the end of each flight the models lost velocity, crashed into the water and sank. For over sixty years the models have rested on the bottom of the lake.

In the past, privately funded missions have attempted to locate and recover the lost models, but all have failed due inadequate funding, water depths, search area size, and the amount of metal debris on the lake bottom – according to military records, more than 600 missiles were launched from the same site.

 

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