Avro Arrow – A Canadian Parable

Source: youtube.com

Acknowledged to be the first in its class, as a supersonic jet interceptor, the Avro Arrow Mk 1 never went into production. The project was cancelled Friday February 20, 1959 by Prime Minister John Diefenbaker’s government and put nearly 15,000 people out of work.

In an article in the National Post July 1st 2017,  Richard Quarisa wrote: “While the story of the Avro Arrow is one of the greatest could-have-been’s in modern Canadian History, there is one part of the story that is less well-known but just as significant.

The world didn’t get to see Canada make aviation history but the world did wake up to the fact we had the brain power to produce such an advanced feat of science and technology.”

The article goes on to point out that while the Avro Arrow project cost the Government over $1.1 billion and the day it was cancelled was called, in the Canadian aviation industry, “Black Friday”, it was not an unmitigated disaster.

“One of the brightest minds on the Arrow project, Jim Chamberlain, chief of technological design, and at least 30 other engineers left Canada for NASA. They would go on to join various projects at the space agency – Mercury, Gemini and Apollo.”  In effect, the “Avro group” as they were called became legendary in NASA and helped put “man on the moon”!

I wonder if we looked on the story of the Avro Arrow as a parable.  We have on occasions our own “Black Fridays,” striking us as a disaster, a tragedy or a seemingly incomprehensible accident or illness. Then perhaps only later in life do we discover that it was a “Good Friday” with unforeseen blessings, leading us and others closer to God.

Peter Monty, SJ is Chaplain for the Deaf in Ottawa.

  • John McManus
    Posted at 05:36h, 13 March Reply

    Hello Peter

    thanks for this. I have always felt that when God provides us with a challenge, he always has a gift held behind his back (the grace to meet and grow from the challenge), and when he gives us a gift, there is always a challenge attached (to use the gift for his greater glory). It keeps life interesting

  • Patrick Burns
    Posted at 23:24h, 13 March Reply

    Thanks Peter for your interesting comments on the mythical Avro Arrow.

    Perhaps the biggest upside of that turning point was that Canada was no longer in the major arms race by means of which most Western countries make billionaires.

    Not to forget the pricey super Jeeps that we have been selling to the middle East so they can keep punishing their starving “enemy”. . .

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