Sunday, July 10, 2011

The loop (and the Arrow)

For the first time in ages, it seems, the stars aligned and I had a whole day to myself. Sunny, temperatures in the mid-20s (70 – 80F), and a honey-do list that was more or less under control meant that I could spend the entire day riding if I wanted, so I did. Well most of it anyway.
There’s a 400-kilometre loop (~250 miles) I’d wanted to ride for some time that heads west from here through some really pretty back country to the headwaters of the Madawaska River. Dotted with small tourist towns the curvy roads are well maintained and generally not too heavily travelled, making for perfect riding conditions.
Bancroft loop
So in the vernacular of the locals I “headed up the line” to Whitney, passing through the villages of Eganville, Golden Lake and Wilno among others. It’s great cottage country so these tiny settlements were all quite busy with tourist traffic as craft shops, liquor stores, and outfitters were all doing a booming business.
In Barry’s Bay I stopped for lunch (apologies to Bobskoot, no photos of my Subway sandwich) and came across this memorial to a famous Polish-Canadian.

But first some history.
After the Korean War the Canadian government started a project with A.V. Roe Canada to build the world’s most advanced supersonic fighter aircraft.The CF-105, or Avro Arrow as it was known, flew its maiden flight in 1958 with Janusz ┼╗urakowski in the pilot’s seat. In subsequent test flights the aircraft exceed all expectations, achieving a top speed of nearly Mach 2.0 and establishing a benchmark for other fighters in development at the time. (My wife is one of the few people who actually saw the Arrow flying as they lived near the test field.)
Then in 1959 in a surprise decision, the newly-elected Conservative government under John Diefenbaker killed the project, putting nearly 30,000 workers out of a job overnight. The rationale for the decision has been explained at various times as a reallocation of funds from fighter aircraft to Bomarc missiles, or that the US government, the Arrow’s largest potential customer, refused to buy foreign-built aircraft, no matter how good, or that the project had been infiltrated by a Soviet spy and therefore had to be cancelled and all plans, prototypes and flying aircraft destroyed. In fact it was probably more mundane than any of that and was simply politically motivated. Diefenbaker’s new government came to power with a mandate to reign in the previous Liberal government's spending, and this was clearly low-hanging fruit with approximately $500 million spent to date and many millions more to come. And the directive to destroy all assets associated with the program would ensure that even if the Liberals regained power, they would never be able to resurrect the program.
The end result was that many of Canada’s brightest aerospace engineering minds headed south to the USA, seriously damaging Canada’s aerospace industry for generations to come, but hugely benefitting America’s nascent space program.
As the Arrow’s chief test pilot Janusz ┼╗urakowski left A.V. Roe and settled in Barry’s Bay where he died in 2004. This model of the Arrow and a series of information plaques concerning his life as a war-time pilot in Poland and later in the UK, and his subsequent years as a test pilot are on the main street of Barry’s Bay in recognition of his contributions to both the aerospace industry and in later years his adopted community. Very cool.
But I digress.
From Barry’s Bay I continued west to Whitney, at the entrance to Algonquin Park, then dropped south to Bancroft for a weird parking lot conversation and a rest break before heading back home through Denbigh, Khartum, Dacre, and Renfrew.
All told, 396.4 kilometres, and a realisation that I am seriously out of shape for any kind of distance riding. I obviously need more saddle time that isn’t just 1/2 hour spurts into town or to the golf course. Will have to work on that.

5 comments:

  1. Thanks for the memories Canajun! I have the Avro Arrow in a plane spotting book somewhere that I've owned since I was a young fella! Gorgeous looking aeroplane with outstanding performance.

    The British TSR 2 suffered a similar fate to the Arrow and to make doubly sure it didn't bounce back, all the jigs, plans and other support stuff was destroyed too. Broke Dad's heart as he was involved with the TSR 2 project.

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  2. Funny how bikes and planes always seem to end up together.

    I have been to Algonquin Park many years ago, it was Fall foliage time, and it was beautiful.

    Get some more time on two wheels, will you?

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  3. Dear Canajun:

    I have seen a movie about this aircraft and was sorry that it never went further. Can you imagine how history would have been changed had Canada become the seat of the world's most aggressive aircraft development peogram.

    Fondest regards,
    Jack/reep
    Twisated Roads

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  4. Jack - It was quite a machine by all accounts. And it is always interesting to speculate on how things would be different if....

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