Avro Arrow model found in Lake Ontario, to be unveiled in underwater video at 11 a.m.

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Nearly 60 years after the Avro Arrow was scrapped amid controversy, members of the public will get their first look at one of the test models recently found in the depths of Lake Ontario.

The announcement and unveiling are expected for 11 a.m. ET in Toronto, where still photographs and underwater video from a remote-operated vehicle will also be presented.

OEX Recovery Group, which spearheaded the Raise the Arrow expedition, said Thursday that new sonar imagery confirmed the discovery of the free-flight model.

“We are very pleased and tremendously proud to announce that we have discovered the first example of one of the Arrow models,” said John Burzynski, Raise the Arrow expedition leader.

Popular jet scrapped in 1959

The Arrow, a sleek jet interceptor developed in Malton, Ont., in the 1950s, had the potential to propel Canada to the forefront in military aviation. The program was abruptly cancelled in 1959 by Prime Minister John Diefenbaker, resulting in 30,000 employees losing their jobs. As well, the planes were ordered to be destroyed.

Ottawa orders all evidence of Arrow destroyed3:53

It’s believed that nine three-metre-long, or one-eighth scale, models of the Arrow fitted with sensors were strapped onto rockets, and fired over the lake from Point Petre, near Prince Edward County more than 200 kilometres from Toronto.

New search launched in July

In July, what’s believed to be the biggest search of its kind for the models was launched — with the help of equipment that assisted the successful Franklin Expedition in 2016. The mission is a collaborative effort by several private companies in assistance with the Canadian Coast Guard and the Royal Canadian Military Institute.

John Burzynski

John Burzynski, the mission’s team leader, said the search has been a work in progress for the last year and a half, and his group has recently acquired all the necessary permits to conduct the search and possible recovery. (Makda Ghebreslassie/CBC)

A Newfoundland and Labrador company, Kraken Sonar Systems, was awarded the $500,000 contract, which will involve deploying its state-of-the-art ThunderFish underwater vehicle and AquaPix sonar system to capture high-quality images of the lake bed.

In July, the team announced the search grid would cover water ranging in depth from five metres closer to shore and 100 metres farther out in the lake. The mission was set to run the underwater sonar equipment for eight hours a day, after which the data was downloaded and analyzed by a team of scientists that also included archeologists.


The Avro Arrow was scrapped in 1959 after its development was controversially cancelled by Prime Minister John Diefenbaker. (Avro Museum)

Their original goal was to search an area about half the size of Vancouver, or 64 square kilometres.

A 1980 CBC report said that after the destruction of the existing Arrow planes — created based on the models now in Lake Ontario — pieces were sold to a Hamilton junk dealer, for 6.5 cents per pound. At 67,000 pounds, a scrapped Arrow would have cost $4,355.

Unveiling the Arrow0:33

John Diefenbaker defends his Avro Arrow decision1:48

The hunt for Avro Arrow models3:03

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Avro Arrow model found in Lake Ontario, to be unveiled in underwater video at 11 a.m.

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