Many Canadians believe Canada would be one of the top nations in the world in aviation and space technology because of the CF 105 Avro Arrow. A delta wing interceptor aircraft, it was powered by the Orenda Iroquois engine, and boasted an on board computer that allowed it to fly by wire instead of hydraulics. What's so special about that? Where is it now? The design of the CF-105 Avro Arrow was implemented in 1953. Yes. 1953. Production started and the first plane rolled off the line in 1958. It was poised to take over the aviation world and then...
|Digital what? Scrap it. Internet? Scrap that too.|
...the whole program was scrapped by Canadian Prime Minister John Diefenbaker and his cabinet. Politics. Records indicate high ranking members of the Canadian military recommended canceling this project and some believe Diefenbaker was paid to scrap it, either way it doesn't look good on his resume.
You can read more about the Avro Arrow here but what does this have to do with Canadians in space? Can you name any? What about Canada's space program? Does the acronym NASA sound familiar?
Following the cancellation of production, the engineers responsible for the Avro Arrow left to join companies like the British Supersonic Transport study responsible for the Concorde, GE, Pratt & Whitney, Lockheed, Boeing and NASA where they welcomed that sort thinking.
Avro engineers joined NASA's Space Task Group. This is the group responsible for developing the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo space programs and Canadians populated this team as lead engineers and program managers. Chief Aerodynamicist, Jim Chamberlain, was a key designer of the Mercury capsule John Glenn used to orbit the earth in 1962 and several ex-Avro engineers and designers were among those working at NASA's Mission Control. Eventually 33 engineers and technicians would join the Space Task Group and this incident became a sickening indicator of Canada's brain drain and why Canadians are significantly NOT in space.
Edit: From the comments, a some of the innovative firsts, that the average person might understand, in the 1953 Avro Arrow design. Full list in comments:
First a/c designed with digital computers being used for both aerodynamic analysis and designing the structural matrix (and a whole lot more).
First a/c to fly on an electronic signal from the stick and pedals. i.e., first fly-by-wire a/c.
First a/c to fly with fly by wire AND artificial feedback (feel). Not even the first F-16's had this.
First high wing jet fighter that made the entire upper surface a lifting body. The F-15, F-22, Su-27 etc., MiG-29, MiG 25 and others certainly used that idea.
First by-pass engine design. (all current fighters have by-pass engines).
First engine to use only 10 compressor sections in a two-shaft design. (The competition was using 17!!)
Courtesy of Randall Whitcomb, "Avro Aircraft and Coldwar Aviation."
© RL Whitcomb 2006
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