Lake Ontario being searched to recover planes used for military testing in 1950s
Published Friday, July 14, 2017 4:25PM EDT Last Updated Monday, July 17, 2017 12:38PM EDT
Several planes that were tested more than 60 years ago are still at the bottom of Lake Ontario – but a recent announcement revealed there’s a plan to find and remove them.
The Avro Arrow Fighter Jet project put Canada at the forefront of military aviation in the 1950s. The Arrow was considered a breakthrough fighter jet, and smaller models of it – around one-eighth of its original size – were launched over Lake Ontario from Point Petre (200 kilometres from Toronto) attached to high-powered booster rockets from 1954 to 1957.
This was done to test the aerodynamic qualities and stability of the aircraft’s design, according to the Canada Aviation and Space Museum.
But the project was abruptly canceled by the Canadian government in 1959. Many engineers left the country and around 14,000 workers at the Avro plant lost their jobs. All of the materials related to the Arrow were ordered destroyed. Nine models have remained at the bottom of Lake Ontario ever since.
Now, as part of a Canada 150 initiative, there has been an effort to recover them.
“We put this idea together about a year and half ago. It was a team effort amongst all the people involved. One of the things that surprised us…was how many people we knew who had connections to the Avro story,” said President and CEO of OSISKO Mining Inc. John Burzynski.
The company is the sponsor for OEX Recovery Group Inc., which will rely on technology from Kraken Sonar Inc. to find the planes.
In a video presented after the announcement on Friday, Kraken vice-president David Shea said they’ll use a “very high resolution of the sonar system” that surveys one-kilometre blocks at a time.
According to an Osisko news release on Friday, the project will also rely on “historical information to narrow the search area as much as possible” as well as interviews with former Avro employees, research, and “ballistic trajectory and flight data modeling.”
“This was a story of many people who were put out of work when the program was cancelled,” said Burzynski.
“One of the things we’re not trying to do with this program is to rewrite the history of what happened with the Avro program. This is simply a search -- and ideally, recovery.”
The project is in partnership with the Canada Aviation Museum, the Royal Canadian Air Force, the Canadian Conservation Institute and the OEX Group.