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CAHS Lecture-Jan Zurakowski

Jan Zurakowski:
Test Flying the Arrow.

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ILLUSTRATION BY JAN STROOMENBERGH
A talk by Jan Zurakowski, principal test pilot of the Avro Arrow, given to the Toronto Ch-,zpter CAIIS on t March 1978. Introduction by Don Rogers of de Havilland Aircraft of Canada Ltd. Questions moderated by Les Wilkinson, CARS Librarian.

INTRODUCTION: Don Rogers.

 


   I am pleased to introduce our speaker tonight, for I had the happy privilege of spending seven years working with him at Avro Aircraft. Janusz Zurakowski was born in 1914 and had his first flight at the age of 15 when he was in high school. He learned to fly on gliders during 1932 in Poland and joined the Polish Air Force in 1934. Before the end of the thirties, he was an instructor in a Polish fighter squadron, and when Germany invaded Poland, had the rather unique opportunity of shooting down the first enemy aircraft while flying an obsolete fighter-trainer. When Germany finally overran Poland, Zurakowski was able to escape to England and arrived in time to join the Battle of Britain with the RAF. He was credited with three more enemy aircraft during that period.

   After the Battle of Britain, he joined the Polish Squadron of the RAF. He was mentioned in dispatches twice for his work with the fighter squadron, and also received the Polish Military Cross of Valour with two bars during that period. At the end of the war, he was accepted as a pilot at the Empire Test Pilots' School at Boscombe Downs, and posted to the Aircraft and Armament Experimental Establishment. He became heavily involved with the acceptance flying and the early development flying on the de Havilland Vampire, which was the first RAF jet fighter. In 1946 he went to Gloster Aircraft as chief development pilot and did much of the early test flying on the Meteor and later the Gloster Javelin, a delta-wing fighter. He came to Canada to join A. V. Roe Canada Limited as chief development test pilot in 1952 and did much of the development work on the CF-100, which was being built at that time.

When he was with the Gloster company, he demonstrated, to the surprise of the people at Farnborough, the first all-new aerobatic maneuver seen in a long time. With a fully-loaded Meteor fighter, he climbed vertically until it was almost stationary in the vertical plane, and then, by cutting one engine, made the aircraft cartwheel in the ver­tical plane as it fell. This was given the name of the "Zura­batic Cartwheel" and was considered to be quite an out­standing maneuver. He again surprised the folks at Farn­borough while demonstrating the CF-100 in the mid-fifties. He didn't try to compete with the rest of the fighter aircraft, swooshing by at high speed, but instead put on an absolutely outstanding display, doing a complete aerobatic performance within the confines of the airfield. It was during this period that the initial work of the Avro Arrow was progressing. Zurakowski did the first flight of the Arrow in 1958 and was awarded the McKee Trophy during that year for his contribution to Canadian test flying. The sad part of the story comes in 1959, when, as most of you remember, the Arrow project was cancelled and the Avro company went downhill after that. Jan Zurakowski retired from flying in 1959 and built up a thriving resort business. He was appointed as a member of the Canadian Aviation Hall of Fame in 1973, for his contribution to Canadian aviation and Canadian test flying. Despite the various honours, he remains a very quiet, unassuming gentleman. A typical case in point occurred during a recep­tion given for him at the Toronto City Hall a few years ago. He was presented with official City of Toronto cuff links by the Mayor of Toronto. Someone asked him what does it feel to fly so fast, at twice the speed of sound. With his typical understatement, he said: "It feels just like flying slowly, only faster.

" So, without any more from me, let us welcome our speaker for tonight, Jan Zurakowski, to tell us about flying slow and flying fast.

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