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2008 Aviation DollarCF-105 Avro Arrow RL-201
Canada's single greatest homegrown aeronautical achievement marks its 50th anniversary this year. The Canadian development, from the ground up, of the most advanced fighter?interceptor the world had ever seen is one of the most intriguing stories in the history of aviation. No other aircraft, before or since, has inspired such national pride in our aerospace community, nor led to more passionate debate among conspiracy theorists.
As the post?war world chose sides and faced off in what would become known as the Cold War, leading aerospace designer A.V. Roe began work on a revolutionary aircraft intended to safeguard Canadian sovereignty against the new threat of a nuclear first strike. Faster and more advanced than any comparable aircraft, the CF?105, or Avro Arrow as it was known, was designed to carry nuclear?tipped air?to?air missiles to destroy Soviet bombers attacking over the Canadian North.
The rollout of the first CF?105, marked as RL?201, took place October 4, 1957. The company had planned to capitalize on the event, inviting more than 13,000 guests to the formal occasion. Unfortunately, the media and public attention for the Arrow rollout was dwarfed by the launch of Sputnik the same day. RL?201 first flew on March 25, 1958, with Chief Development Test Pilot Janusz Zurakowski at the controls.
During its test flights, the Arrow flew at Mach 1.96 ? nearly twice the speed of sound ? and reached altitudes up to 50,000 feet, results that are still impressive by today's standard of fighter aircraft design. The Arrow could fly faster, higher and farther than today's CF?18 Hornet. It was a very clean design and many of its features were copied on other North American?made fighters, including today's F?22 Raptor stealth fighter.
By the time the first five of six planned prototypes were operational, they had logged a total of 70.5 hours of flight, 25.5 of those in RL?201. Then, on February 20, 1959, Prime Minister John Diefenbaker shocked the nation by announcing the immediate cancellation of the Arrow program, throwing 14,000 Avro employees out of work and sparking a controversy that continues to this day. The government ordered all plans destroyed and the prototypes cut into pieces to ensure that no one could ever copy the technology.
To fill the Arrow's mandated role, the government later purchased the CF?101 Voodoo from the United States Air Force, but the performance benchmarks achieved during the Arrow testing program cemented Canada's role as a leader in the global aerospace industry.
The 2008 Aviation Dollar honours Avro Arrow RL?201 on the 50th anniversary of its maiden flight.
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