Navy to search for Avro Arrow scale models

Navy to search for scale models of the famed Avro Arrow

Two Canadian warships equipped with high-tech scanners and specially trained divers will begin a search of Lake Ontario for nine scale models of the famed Avro Arrow early next month.

Navy spokesperson Mike Bonin admits it will be like looking for a needle in the haystack.

The models, three-metres long with a two-metre wingspan, are exact replicas of the Arrow, the technologically advanced fighter plane developed in Canada in the 1950s that became a national legend.

The scale models were launched on rockets over the lake during the plane's development to provide flight engineers with technical data.

All nine models crashed into the lake, as expected, and sank to depths of up to 244 metres and would now be obscured by decades of silt.

Aviation enthusiasts and conservation groups have been searching for the lost models ever since. In 1999, two of them were located, but the searchers didn't have required permits.

Arrow fans, who believe the jet could have propelled Canada to the forefront of the aviation industry, have mixed emotions about the fact the Canadian military is now taking a lead role.

Author and enthusiast Palmiro Campagna called the navy's search an attempt to right the wrong.

Prime Minister John Diefenbaker abruptly cancelled the Avro program in 1958, citing spiralling costs. More than 14,000 workers were laid off and all Avro Arrow prototypes were destroyed.