ARC Search Pics

Arrow Pilots: Jack Woodman

Jack Woodman:
Flying the Arrow.


continued from page 4,
    The breakdown by aircraft is as follows:

First Flight Date



25201-Mar. 25, 1958



25202-Aug. 1, 1958



25203-Sept. 22, 1958



25204-Oct. 27, 1958



25205-Jan. 11, 1959






   On Feb. 7, 1959, aircraft No. 1 and No. 4 both flew. This was the last day any of the Arrow aircraft left the ground. As I mentioned, Zurakowski made the first flight; he also did most of the early flying.

   When Zura retired, Potocki took over as Chief Development Pilot, and at the end of the program was high man in total flying time. I was fortunate enough to have six flights and, as fate would have it, the only military pilot to fly the airplane.

   Flying with Don Rogers and the Avro team was an honor for me, and I thoroughly enjoyed the four years I spent at Avro. I mentioned Zurakowski being the best test pilot I have ever known; the rest of the team, and all the Avro troops, were of the same caliber.

   The one complaint I had with the company's operation was the lack of detailed flight test plan. My friend Ken Owen (now chief of airworthiness at DoT) and I tried for over a year to get a schedule of flights and tests to be performed, but were unsuccessful. This is not to say that the people running the program did not know where they were going or what had to be done, but they apparently did not believe in writing it down. Ken and I did our best to convince them that we understood flight test and realized the only thing consistent was that it was subject to change. But our efforts were in vain; they refused to write a program. I didn't understand it in 1958, and I don't understand it today.

Data Acquisition

   The Arrow data acquisition and handling system was composed of an airborne multichannel recorder (magnetic tape), phono panel, osciilograph, an airborne radio telemetry link, a mobile telemetry receiving station, and a mobile data reduction unit. The aircraft armament bay, which was a removable self-contained unit, was used to house all of the airborne instrumentation. For visual monitoring of flight conditions on the ground, a special "operations" room was set up, which contained recording oscillographs that gave instantaneous visual records of data during actual flight. Personnel in the room were in constant radio contact with the pilot by means of the conventional radio link, so instructions and/or comments could be exchanged at any time.

   The instrumentation used during the Arrow program was the same as instrumentation being used in today's flight test programs-refined a little today, but basically the same. The system was a constant source of trouble during the Arrow program, however. During the first series of flights, the system was plagued with a number of problems that were probably due to the thousands of wires and connections running to the instrument pack. But, as I remember, these problems were never really resolved, and many a flight was delayed because of this system. Chase-aircraft, either a CF-100 or F-86 Sabre, were used on almost every flight.

   There is not much I can add to the performance picture. As I mentioned, approximately 95% of the flight envelope was investigated, and while the Mk. I Arrow never did quite reach max speed of Mach 2.0, there is no reason to believe that the production aircraft with Iroquois engines would not have reached Mach 2.0 quite easily. The Iroquois engine had approximately 30% more thrust than the J.75, and the airplane would have weighed approximately 5,000 lbs. less. I believe the Arrow Mk. II had sufficient performance capability to set a world speed and altitude record, which was held at that time by the United States. The first Mk. II Arrow was scheduled to fly at the end of February, and I believe it would have easily met all performance guarantees.

   As I mentioned earlier, the Arrow, at certain speeds and altitudes, flew as well as any airplane I have ever flown; at other points control was very sensitive and the aircraft difficult to fly.

   Reading from some of my old flight reports, on my first flight I reported that at low and high indicated airspeeds the airplane behaved reasonably well, the controls being effective, with good re­sponse, and the aircraft demonstrated positive stability. However, due to the sensitivity of the controls the aircraft was difficult to fly accurately. At high Mach numbers, I reported the transition from subsonic to supersonic speed to be very smooth, compressibility effects negligible, and the sensitive control problem experienced at lower speeds and altitudes eliminated. The aircraft, at supersonic speeds, was pleasant and easy to fly. During approach and land­ing, the handling characteristics were considered good; approach speed was 190 kts., touchdown was at 165 kts., drag chute was deployed at 155 kts., and the aircraft rolled the full length of the runway. Attitude during approach was approximately 10°, with good forward visibility.

    On my second flight, I reported that the general handling characteristics of the Arrow Mk. I were much improved. The yaw damper was now performing quite reliably, although turn co-ordination was questionable in some areas. The roll damper was not optimized as yet, and longitudinal control was sensitive at high IAS.

  On my 6th and last flight, I reported longitudinal control to be positive with good response, and breakout force and stick gradients to be very good. Lateral control was good, forces and gradients very good, and the erratic control in the rolling plane, encountered on the last flight, no longer there. Directionally, slip and skid were held to a minimum. At no time during the flight was there more than 1 ° of sideslip, and the problem of turn co-ordination appeared to be eliminated at this point. Final approach to landing was at 175 kts. and a 3° glideslope; attitude was approximately 12°, touchdown was at 160 kts., and the landing roll was estimated at 6,000 to 6,500 ft., with little or no braking.

   To me, it appears obvious that excellent progress was being made in the development of the Arrow.

   Comments made by some of the other pilots who flew the Arrow include:

"The nosewheel can be lifted by very gentle movement of the stick at just over 120 knots."

"Unstick speed is about 170 knots with an attitude of about 11 °."

"Acceleration is rapid, with negligible correction required and no tendency toward swing."

"Typical touchdown speed is a little over 165 knots."

"There was no indication of stalling at maximum angle of attack at 15°."

"Change of trim was negligible except in the transonic region, where small changes of trim were required."

"in turns, stick force was moderate to light, but always positive, with no tendency to pitch up or lighten."

"In sideslip, the aircraft was a little touchy without the damper, but excellent with the damper engaged."


   In closing, I would just like to say that the handling and performance characteristics of the Avro Arrow were shaping up very nicely. There were many problems still to be resolved at the time of cancellation, but from where I sat the Arrow was performing as predicted and was meeting all guarantees.

   The decision to cancel the Arrow program was, in my opinion, very poorly founded. Nothing has happened since 1959 to support that decision as being correct. In fact, just the opposite happened.

   Several months before the cancellation announcement, there was a lot of bad publicity in Toronto newspapers about the Arrow. It was like an anti-Arrow campaign was being waged. Retired Army officers and self-proclaimed aviation experts, and others, were implying that the day of the manned interceptor was over. They said missiles would be the first line of defence, and the Arrow would be obsolete before it could enter squadron service.

   Ironically, not too long after the program was cancelled, an announcement had to be made concerning the decision to scrap the Bomarc missile program due to obsolescence. The Bomarc just never got off the launching pad, and the Canadian Government had been "led down the garden path." Ground-to-air missiles can be effective weapons, and a combination of missiles and manned aircraft is probably a good way to go, but one certainly does not replace the other.

   The decision to scrap the Arrow program could not logically have been based on money, because since the cancellation, the RCAF has purchased at least 400 new aircraft, it not more. This includes the F-101, the F-104, the F-5, and the present-day evaluation of the F-14 and F-15 as a replacement fighter for use in the 1980s, which run about 15 to 20 million dollars per copy. This new manned interceptor is intended for the 1980s, approximately 30 years after the Arrow was cancelled, and the idea of the manned interceptor declared obsolete.

   Cancelling the program was one thing, but to make matters worse, everything was destroyed all the aircraft, the records, and all the work that was accomplished, almost as if to hide all the evidence. I think one of the aircraft, at least, should have been assigned to the National Aeronautical establishment and kept as a research vehicle. Also, I'm sure other aircraft manufacturers could have benefitted from Avro's experience makers of the Concorde, for example.

   Cancelling the Arrow program denied A. V. Roe, and Canada, the opportunity of developing their technological expertise and to be world competitors in the field for high-performance aircraft.

Jack Woodman

Jack Woodman Bio

Scott McArthur.




© C© Copyright AvroArrow.Org, 2009. Materials may be freely copied and distributed subject to the inclusion of the copyright notice, and credit must be given to AvroArrow.Org. The site is intended for historical and informational purposes. This site contains links to other Internet sites. These links are not endorsements of any products or services in such sites, and no information in such sites has been endorsed or approved by this site.



ARC Logo Strip