ADA-CAHS Lecture-Jan Zurakowski
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CAHS Lecture-Jan Zurakowski
Test Flying the Arrow.
And Other High Speed Jet Aircraft.
republication has been made possible thanks to
the assistance of
The Canadian Aviation
Historical Society. We hope you enjoy this piece
of aviation history.
Scott McArthur. Webmaster,
Arrow Recovery Canada.
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.
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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