Underwater vehicle probes depths of Lake Ontario for long-missing Avro Arrow model planes

An underwater vehicle was launched into the depths of Lake Ontario today in the hopes of recovering long-missing Avro Arrow model planes.

The models are considered an important piece of Canadian aviation history

Newfoundland's Kraken Sonar used its Thunderfish autonomous underwater vehicle in the search, which was lowered into Lake Ontario to begin surveying the area where the model planes are believed to be. (CBC)

A renewed effort to find missing Avro Arrow model planes, believed to be at the bottom of Lake Ontario since the 1950s, launched Friday.

An underwater vehicle was sent into Lake Ontario by the Raise the Arrow project, a collaboration between several private companies that are working with the assistance of the Canadian Coast Guard and the Royal Canadian Military Institute.

The Thunderfish autonomous underwater vehicle, a programmable submarine, is now busy surveying the section of the lake where the models are believed to be. 

"We're starting with the high probability areas," said John Burzynski, head of OEX, the group leading the recovery efforts. 

The submarine is accompanied by a crew on a boat who stay nearby to watch out for boat traffic. 

A crew will travel with the submarine to ensure it is not impacted by boat traffic on Lake Ontario. (CBC)

It processes what it "sees" on an on-board computer, "so the job is largely done in terms of creating a map of what they saw that day by the end of the day," said Burzynski. 

In other words, it won't take long to find out if the submarine's four-week search is successful. 

"You won't have to wait weeks and months" to hear if anything has been found, said Burzynski. "This will be within days." 

Planes built to intercept Soviet bombers

The Avro Arrow was the first and only supersonic interceptor built by the Canadian military, developed in the mid-1950s to respond to Soviet bombers targeting North America's Arctic.

In 1959, the program was abruptly cancelled and all materials related to it were destroyed.

The Avro Arrow was built to intercept Soviet bombers that might have entered North American airspace over the North Pole during the Cold War - until the Arrow program was abruptly scrapped in 1959. (Avro Museum)

The Avro Arrow models, scaled at one-eighth the size of the actual plane, are thought to have been launched over the lake in the mid-50s. 

If recovered, the models will find homes at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum in Ottawa and the National Air Force Museum of Canada in Trenton, Ont.