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I'm a Conservative Troglodyte who puts more emphasis on common sense rather than political parties.

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Sunday, December 05, 2004

Canada's Flying Saucer...

FIFTY years ago, almost to this day, Canada pulled the plug on their Flying Saucer program. Really, they did. Defense Minister at the time, C.D. Howe, confirmed that fact while visiting England in early December 1954.

The actual Flying Saucer was a secret project of Toronto based AVRO Air back in the early 50’s. Days after Canada decided that the project held no real worth, and was entirely too expensive, the US Air Force decided to finance the “folly.” That left AVRO with, only, contractual work that included a very non-diverse client base. In other words, if they were to lose their only client (The Royal Canadian Air Force), they would be unable to exist.

That’s what happened. While the Royal Canadian Air Force looked to AVRO to produce the CF-105 Arrow fighter, someone in the Canadian Government had the bright idea that bombers were obsolete due to ballistic missiles. Therefore, the value of the CF-105 Arrow fighter was diminished. They pulled the plug on AVRO. In, what could be considered, a bit of a political tantrum, AVRO (once one of most revered producers of “flying machines”) let go of over 15,000 workers.

The only other project AVRO had was with the US Air Force. They were building and testing flying saucers. These “Flying Arrows” as they were called, also, fell victim to the collapse of ARVO. All five of the prototypes were cut to scrap. The assembly line that produced these “flying saucers” was dismantled. Nothing was left….almost.

You see the greatest thing about the human race is innovation. Next time you have some time to kill try something that keeps me occupied during long flights, or monotonous layovers. Think about some of the greatest achievements of our time, and see if you can trace that finished product to its preschool origins. Guns are a good example. The evolution to the present is truly remarkable. Candy is another. What started out as sugar crystals or the Dravidian kantu (ball of candied sugar), progressing to my personal favorite, Snickers, is more amazing that it sounds. That was, in itself, a progression of over 800 years.

The Flying Saucer led to an evolution of sorts as well. You could probably make the connection between the vertical exhaust systems of the “Flying Arrow” and the, still, prominent Harrier Jump Jet as employed by the US Marines. That’s not too much of a stretch. However, there is a more obvious example, as well as a more important one.

First, the obvious. The Flying Arrow was the early version of the hover craft. While this early version was clumsy and only hovered off the ground by a few feet in concept, the application, eventually, transformed into the various more applicable models that we see today. The encyclopedia will tell you that the inventor of the Hover Craft was a British gentleman named Sir Christopher Cockerell. His first prototype came to fruition in 1955. Canadian AVRO didn’t get the credit. That’s probably because they were referring to their secret project as a Flying Saucer. However, the theory was the same.

So what was the “important” evolutionary product resulting from the AVRO Arrow flying saucer? That’s simple; people. Some of those amazingly innovative and creative scientists, engineers, and technicians of AVRO were, suddenly out of work. There was an American entity that scooped some of them right up. They went to work on a very significant project(s) that reached for the stars in ambition and, similarly, in its goal. The entity that grabbed up some of these futuristic thinkers was NASA. And, some of those same folks once confined to the secret Canadian project of constructing a Flying Saucer helped put an American on the moon nearly two decades after AVRO shut their doors.

When Defense Minister C. D. Howe pulled the plug on the Flying Saucer project in 1954 he said it was, “because it did not seem to have any useful purpose."

I beg to differ.

Interesting sources on the above:
Canada's Flying Saucer

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