It has been hard to miss that today is the 50th Anniversary of the launch of Sputnik. It is all over the news and Sputnik is such an icon that Google altered their header to commemorate the day. However, until a friend pointed it out, it never occurred to me that Sputnik shares this anniversary with a Canadian aviation icon. (It is funny how history can be, until everything is in context, it doesn't make complete sense...and sometimes it takes a while to put everything in context.)
On October 4, 1957, Avro Canada rolled out the Arrow prototype to the shock and awe of VIPs, politicians, media and plant staff. While the first flight of the Arrow in March 1958 probably was the high point of Canadian aviation history, the roll out was a big step in the right direction. Canada was near the top of heap in aviation technology. Sadly, that didn't last and with the cancellation of the Arrow on "Black Friday" (February 20, 1959) the Canadian aviation industry was dealt a blow it has never recovered from. While Canadair and DeHavilland would design and build some nice civil aircraft over the years, never would a Canadian aviation maker scale the heights of a high performance military fighter. While, the Arrow has become an icon in Canada, especially among aviation fans, it is little remembered to the rest of the world. Sputnik will never be forgotten worldwide for igniting the space race and freezing the cold war just a little bit.
The Arrow was a beautiful aircraft that was probably ahead of its time. The Canadian AF is cutting back to the point where soon there will not only be no Canadian military avation industry, but no Canadian military avation period. The recent purchase of the C-17 is the only bright spot in a recent history of cutbacks. Very sad.
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