Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Way We Were ::: 1960 ::: CANADA

The AVROCAR…Canada's Flying Saucer - the World's Only, Ever…

In 1953, US military officials visited AVRO Canada to view Canada’s new fighter-jet, the CF-100 Canuck.

“Jack” Frost, known formerly outside of AVRO Canada as John Frost, Chief Designer of the de Havilland Hornet (basically, a better Mosquito), and Swallow project, who had also worked on the famed Vampire, and had been working on “stuff” at Avro Canada since 1947 wanted to share his SPG work with the visiting USAF and defense “delegation”.

These US defense staff had only come up to see Canada’s newest fighter, but they walked away seeing a hellva’ lot more.

Frost took them over to the Schaeffer Building where the Special Projects Group of AVRO Canada was located.

Here security guards, numerous locked doors, and special pass cards were a way of life. And here the unsuspecting delegates were introduced to Project Y.

Project Y was a wooden mock-up of a flying saucer capable of flying 1,500 mph and climbing vertically.

VTOL (Vertical Take-off and Landing)!

The Americans were astounded.

Still, they musta' reasoned, the Canadians had accomplished a lot in recent years…Avro Canada had already produced North America’s first jetliner (five years before America’s first, the Boeing’s 707), they had just seen the brand new Canadian jet fighter, and now here, right before their eyes was Canada’s ultra-secretive Project Y.

It was all too much.

But wait Frost continued…there’s more!

So the now, the very interested Americans, were introduced to the Y-2 Project and the Avrocar venture as well.

Again, it was all too much.

But Frost’s gamble paid off…and out came the USAF (and later the US Army's) chequebook. "Jack" had shown the USAF, secret drawings and items, other Avro Canada executive, then in attendance, didn't even know about!

The USAF was so interested in these projects, they later took over all the funding of AVRO Canada’s Special Project Group, and consequently the Y Projects.

So, in February of 1959 when the Arrow related projects (the Avro Arrow I and II and the Orenda Iroquois engine) were cancelled, and all 13,000 AVRO Canada employees were terminated and thrown out of work, Avro’s Special Project Group soldiered on, alone. There the SPG worked now, in those big empty buildings, where the Arrow and the Iroquois were now only a whisper, until March of 1961 when their US funding was finally exhausted.

The USAF formally cancelled the Avrocar and the WS-606A Supersonic VTOL programs, as they were officially known in December 1961.

ABOVE, the Avrocar flies at YYZ, Malton Regional Airport then, sometime in 1960.