Edmonton

Avro Arrow model marks 100 years of Canadian aviation history

Fifty years after the federal government cancelled the Avro Arrow project, a full-scale replica of the airplane was rolled into position Friday at the Reynolds-Alberta Museum in Wetaskiwin, 70 kilometres south of Edmonton.
A model of the Avro Arrow is now on display at the Reynolds-Alberta Museum in Wetaskiwin, Alta.
Fifty years after the federal government cancelled the Avro Arrow project, a full-scale replica of the airplane was rolled into position Friday at the Reynolds-Alberta Museum in Wetaskiwin, 70 kilometres south of Edmonton.

Volunteers, along with students and staff from the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology Aircraft Structures program, put 500 hours into refurbishing the model, which was originally built in several stages and used in the CBC television miniseries Canada's Broken Dream.

"I'm hoping to instill some enthusiasm in the students, get them to learn and understand a little piece of Canadian history they can take with them for the rest of their careers," Dave McIntosh, chair of the Aircraft Structure program at NAIT said Friday.

Replica on display until September

The project was completed to mark the 100th anniversary of powered flight in Canada, and the 50th anniversary of the cancellation of the Arrow project.

The 80-foot model looks just like the original, according to Byron Reynolds, honorary curator of the aviation program at the Reynolds-Alberta Museum.

Byron Reynolds is the honorary curator of the aviation program at the Reynolds-Alberta Museum in Wetaskiwin. (CBC)
"It's absolutely stunning, and it turned out wonderful. Of course it's not an air-worthy replica by any sense … but it gives you some idea of what could have been if the program had continued. We'd probably still be flying them now 50 years later," Reynolds said.

There are two full-scale replicas of the Avro Arrow in Canada, one is in Toronto and the second is this one in Alberta, he said.

"In February of 1959 when that airplane was cancelled, we were absolutely at the top of our game," Reynolds said. "Canada took a second seat to nobody … nobody had anything that would even remotely compete with this airplane flying or even on the drawing board at that time."

When the project was cancelled in 1959 by Prime Minister John Diefenbaker, all prototypes and blueprints were destroyed, he said.

"It's a remnant of our technological past glories here in Canada and a fitting tribute to all those who have contributed to aviation in Canada over the last 100 years," he said.

The full-scale model will be on display at the museum until early September.

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