Alberta students to restore Avro Arrow model

Students and instructors from the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology are working to restore a full-scale model of Canada's legendary Avro Arrow.

Students and instructors from the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology are working to restore a full-scale model of Canada's legendary Avro Arrow fighter jet.

The model, built by Allan Jackson in Wetaskiwin, Alta., in 1987 and lent to CBC for a miniseries on the plane, is getting a complete overhaul.

Restoring the model was an opportunity that student Ryan Sears said he couldn't pass up.

"I knew a little bit, basically from reading the odd book on it [the jet] or on TV, but now I know a little bit more," he said.

"It's quite fascinating to know each wing is 1,200 square feet — you know, it's 20 feet high — and basically the mass size of it. You know, you can't really grasp it until you see it."

The model was built to commemorate the Avro Canada CF-105 Arrow, a twin-engine supersonic interceptor jet designed and built in the 1950s by A.V. Roe Canada in Malton, Ont., and intended for use by the Royal Canadian Air Force and other countries.

The project, estimated to have a final cost of $1 billion, was scrapped suddenly in 1959 because it was deemed too expensive. Progressive Conservative prime minister John Diefenbaker's government ordered all prototypes destroyed, while thousands of aviation employees lost their jobs.

Hailed for the advanced technology it represented, the plane has since been celebrated as a symbol of some of Canada's best technological innovation, and mourned for its loss.

Jackson said he hopes the restoration will bring attention to the story of the Arrow.

"I hope it gets on display, and people can come and see it and tell the story of the Arrow and the people at Avro," Jackson said.

"A lot of those key people … went on to the U.S. and helped put a man on the moon, so that's important to know that."

The plane is being restored to mark the 100th anniversary of powered flight in Canada.

The crew hopes to unveil the finished plane on July 1.