ADA-Arrow Pilots:Jan Zurakowski
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Test Flying the Arrow. pg2
And Other High Speed Jet Aircraft.
republication has been made possible thanks to
the assistance of
The Canadian Aviation
We hope you enjoy this piece of aviation history.
Scott McArthur. Webmaster, Arrow Recovery
TEST FLYING THE ARROW
other high speed jet aircraft.
The fuselage taking shape. Here the skin is rivoted on
the centre section and the inner wings age installed.
from page 1,
Nearly twenty years
ago, on the 25th of March 1958, the first Canadian
supersonic fighter aircraft, the Avro Arrow, became
airborne. The development and proving flights were
progressing well, aircraft performance was up to
specification, the initial five Mk. I aircraft
were flight tested and the production line was
In less than one year, on 20th February
1959, by a decision of the Canadian government,
all work on the aircraft was stopped suddenly
and nearly everything related to this project was
destroyed. This was a very sad end to what were
probably the most exciting times of the Canadian
aircraft industry: 1949 to 1959.
I would like to present to you my
impressions as a test pilot during those times
and to add a few remarks about the situation
Let me begin a few years
before that period.
Close to the end of the war,
when victory was only a question of time and
my superiors were trying to push me from operational
flying into a staff job in London, I discovered
that there was a place for one Polish pilot in
the Empire Test Pilots' School. I put in my application,
was accepted, and started to learn to be a test
After a year's course I was posted to the Aircraft
and Armament Experimental Establishment at Boscombe
Down, where I had the opportunity to test most
of the Royal Air Force fighters, Fleet Air Arm
aircraft and American Navy fighters.
Two years later I left the Royal Air Force and accepted
the position of experimental test pilot with Gloster
Aircraft Company in England, dealing mainly with
the development of the Meteor, a twin-jet interceptor
aircraft, which was first flown in 1943.
Five years of experimental testing taught me not
to accept much at face value, to doubt nearly everything
until proven, and to respect evidence and the importance
of collecting flight test information by special
Up to the end of 1955, about 3 500 Meteor aircraft
were produced in more than ten variants and about
600 aircraft were exported to seven countries.
In the meantime design of a new interceptor was
progressing, and in November 1951 a prototype
of the Javelin made its first flight. This aircraft
was of 'modern' design, having a delta wing, but
a conventional tail.
On the evidence of wind tunnel tests it became
obvious to me, more than two years before the first
flight, that longitudinal instability was present
in the Javelin at lower speeds. I was faced with
a difficult problem. Urgent modifications
were required, but control of the flight test programme
was in the hands of the design office which did
not want to face the facts. The stability flight
test programme therefore called for stability measurement
only within the stable range of speeds.
During one of the
flights I decided to check the low speed range.
It did not look safe, so I climbed to 30,000 feet
and slowly started reducing speed. I reached a
condition when, with the tailplane setting fully
up and elevator fully down (both controls in diving
position), the aircraft was still climbing, and
finally stalled and went into a spin. Spin recovery
Of course, after this experience I made it clear
to the design office that stability of the aircraft
was unsatisfactory as proven by the flight recorder.
Unfortunately, the design office had the authority
to issue the final flight report. Not all the evidence
from the recorder was included and the only comments
were, if I remember correctly, "Pilot investigated
the stalling characteristics of the aircraft and
height lost in recovery was recorded." There
was no mention of extreme instability or spin.
This report convinced me that I was wasting my
time at Gloster, and the conclusion accelerated
my move to Canada.
Why Canada? Canada was
a young country with high development potential.
A. V. Roe Company had the Jetliner, the first jet
transport on the American continent, and the CF-100,
the first Canadian twin-jet interceptor. I had
good flight testing and development experience
on fighters, so I could be useful; besides, I hoped
for a good future for my two sons.
21 April 1952 I landed in Canada, and the next
day I started work as experimental pilot for
A. V. Roe at Malton.
The Toronto Telegram reported: "The 37-year-old
Zurakowski is small and balding, and looks
like anything but a test pilot."
I started work on the CF-100. This was the first
interceptor aircraft designed and built in
Canada to the requirements of the Royal Canadian
Air Force for the defence of Canada. These requirements
were: two engines for safety of flying in the far
north, crew of two, heavy armament, high speed
and high ceiling, and ability to intercept at night
and under all weather conditions. I think the CF-100
was the best design compromise at the time.
The Flight Test Section was under Mario Pesando,
a very experienced engineer, with a clear, practical
approach to any problem, and believe me, we had
enough problems. This small group of flight test
observers and test project engineers was most enthusiastic,
and it was a pleasure to work with them.
Peter Cope, the experimental test pilot who arrived
from England some time before me, was an excellent
and reliable pilot, and helped me a lot by introducing
me into the new organization. In the experimental
hangar, undergoing all sorts of trials, were the
prototype CF-100 Mk. I with Rolls-Royce Avon engines,
first flown on 17 January 1950. and a few CF-100
Mk. II and III. A Mk. IV prototype was expected
to be ready for first flight in a few months.
Meanwhile the Jetliner prototype, with chief test
pilot Don Rogers, was somewhere in California with
Howard Hughes, powerful personality in Trans World
Airlines, who was gaining experience on jet aircraft
and investigating the introduction of jet passenger
transport. Flight development work was very similar
to that which I carried out at Gloster on the Meteors
Let me give you three examples of the problems
experienced in our flight test programme.
First example: Diving speed. The CF-100 had a
maximum design speed of Mach 0.85 (85% of speed
of sound), but its level flight speed at high altitude
was slightly faster. I asked the experts what would
happen if a pilot accidentally exceeded this speed.
The answer was that wind tunnel tests indicated
the aircraft could become uncontrollable, and that
besides, Pilot's Notes clearly showed Mach 0.85
to be the limiting speed.
For me, this answer was not satisfactory. The
CF-100 was an all-weather and night interceptor,
and if the pilot was not careful he could exceed
aircraft limitations in no time. I considered it
my duty to investigate behaviour of the aircraft
at higher speeds and, if dangers were discovered,
to recommend some action. With an instrumented
aircraft I ran a series of dives at high altitude,
checking recorded results between flights. Finally
I reached Mach 1.08 indicated in a dive at full
power. A sonic boom on the ground confirmed passing
the speed of sound. Behaviour of the aircraft was
The flight test department, company management
and the Air Force were delighted, but to the design
office, I discovered, I was enemy number one.
Previously, without the knowledge of either the
flight test section or the pilots, the design office
had prepared a proposal for the RCAF, recommending
extensive redesign of the CF-100 by decreasing
the wing thickness, sweeping it slightly back,
and increasing the area - all this mainly to obtain
a maximum diving speed of Mach 0.95.
The RCAF investigated the proposal, but when the
Mk. IV reached the speed of sound and expensive
improvements were expected to show lower performance,
the proposal was rejected with some sharp remarks.
After this there was hope in the flight test section
that the design office understood that cooperation
with flight test section and pilots was necessary
for future development. Unfortunately the
design office took a different view. A decision
was taken to safeguard the design office from unexpected
flight test results by controlling the programme
of every flight test.
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ADA-Arrow Pilots:Jan Zurakowski