AVRO ARROW REVISITED
Barry’s Bay, Ontario -- What do Malton and Barry’s Bay have in common? Janusz Zurakowski. Janusz Zurakowski, the chief test pilot of the CF 105 Avro Arrow and later the owner of Kartuzy Lodge. While Malton has been amalgamated with Mississauga and Barry’s Bay is now the Township of Madawaska Valley, some things never change.Barry's Bay is still a picturesque village in the Madawaska Valley and the Avro Arrow is still the most advanced aircraft of its time. It was to the village of Barry's Bay that Janusz Zurakowski, the chief test pilot of the powerful CF 105 Avro Arrow, retired to a quiet life without fame, when in 1959 the Conservative government of John Diefenbaker cancelled the Avro Arrow program.
Janusz Zurakowski spent the prime of his life first as a fighter pilot for both Poland and England during the Second World War and later as an experimental pilot and renowned aerobatic pilot. He was the architect of the ‘Zurabatic Cartwheel’, and ‘Falling Leaf”. His achievements as a test pilot for the several versions of the Avro Arrow are perhaps the ones he is most remembered for. After retiring from experimental flying in 1958, Janusz worked as an engineer in the flight test office of the A.V.Roe aircraft company. In 1959 after the Arrow project was cancelled Janusz moved his family to Barry’s Bay and built Kartuzy Lodge on lovely Kaminiskeg Lake, which he and his family operated for over 40 years.
Janusz Zurakowski has been recognized for his many accomplishments in the world of aviation by being inducted into the Canadian Aviation Hall of Fame in 1973. In 1996 he was further recognized by the Royal Canadian Mint issuing a commemorative $20.00 coin of the Avro Canada CF-100 which featured an insert of him. He was inducted into the Western Canada Aviation Museum as one of the “Pioneers of Aviation” in 1997. He received what is possibly a pilots’ most prestigious award - that being the first Canadian to be inducted as an Honourary Fellow of The International Society of Test Pilots. This put him in the same league as Lindbergh, Armstrong and Sikorski. These are just a few of his major achievements.
In 2002 a group of local citizens of Barry’s Bay, recognizing the international accomplishments of Janusz Zurakowski, as well as the role he played in the development and growth of the village, decided that it was time to pay homage to him along with the ill fated Avro Arrow. After much discussion it was decided that a park, named after Mr Zurakowski would be a fitting commemoration.
The progress has been slow but steady thanks to the consistent hard work and determination of a core group of individuals, and the support of the municipality, former A.V.Roe employees and a large group of aviation buffs from around the country. The Township donated the land in the centre of town for the Park, and in this prominent location in 2003 the Zurakowski Park was dedicated. At present the Park has a life sized statue of Janusz Zurakowski, and beside him is a ¼ scaled model of the Avro Arrow, along with an illuminated runway, an RCAF roundel, and billboards to illustrate the historical facts of man and machine. During the warm weather months of the tourist season, the Park is rarely devoid of interested visitors. An on-site booth manned by dedicated volunteers who are ready to answer questions about the Park, and sell souvenirs. All are asked to sign the guest book.
The building of the Park has been a good example of what can be accomplished when a great idea, hard work, cooperation and participation are mixed together. Of course for the working group, the Park as it stands is not enough. Plans are being developed and funds are being raised to construct a building to house the many artifacts accumulated and promised, so that the Avro Arrow Centre at Zurakowski Park can become a reality. The Centre will not only house the aforementioned artifacts and memorabilia of both the man and his machine, it will also contain display cases and information facts as well as a gift shop and a visitor’s rest space. A flight simulator has already been donated, and will be available in the Centre for the enjoyment of the visiting children. One wall will be dedicated to display the names of our benevolent donors.
Fundraising is ongoing and not as fast as anticipated, however it is the intention of the Park Committee to persevere and provide Mr Zurakowski and the Avro Arrow their place in history. The photos which accompany this article will show the statue and Arrow model, as well as the design of the projected building.
Sadly Janusz Zurakowski passed away a few months after the dedication of the Park, however the dream remains alive and the legend lives on. As soon as financially possible a fitting interpretive centre will be built so that the accomplishments of Janusz Zurakowski and the amazing story of the Avro Arrow will live on forever.
We invite all C.O.P.A. members to join with us in this enterprise. Come visit the Park in Barry’s Bay and help us build the Avro Arrow Centre. Our town is located only 30 miles east of Ontario’s most traveled Provincial Park-Algonquin, and some 120 miles west of our nation’s capital. All pilots can come and visit us – and land at the Barry’s Bay “International” Airport or land on the water at Kamaniskeg Lake at the Public Docks. Here is a number you can call to make arrangements to use our local private airfield and to be picked up at the docks - (613)756-0912.
Please visit our website at www.zurakowskipark.ca for more information. Watch for the insert in next month’s magazine, which will make it easy for you to share in the excitement of this wonderful dedication to two of our honoured Canadian legends.
To make donation or support the Zurakowski Park visit http://www.zurakowskipark.ca/donation.html