|A talk by Jan Zurakowski,
principal test pilot of the Avro Arrow, given
to the Toronto Chapter CAHS on March 1978.
Introduction by Don Rogers of de Havilland
Aircraft of Canada Ltd. Questions moderated
by Les Wilkinson, CAHS Librarian.
INTRODUCTION: Don Rogers.
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.
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
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 out standing 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.
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."
without any more from me, let us welcome our speaker
for tonight, Jan Zurakowski, to tell us about flying
slow and flying fast.