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Modern Arrows: Movie Replica

The Arrow
Movie Replica


Please note, the Arrow Movie Replica story was originally published in 2001, now 8 years later the students and instructors of the Northern Alberta Institue of Technology have started to rebuild the decaying Allan Jackson model in honour of the 100th year of Flight in Canada.


-update 2009-NAIT-

What's happened to the Arrow replica?

By Chris Gainor*

One of the "stars" of the 1997 CBC television miniseries on the Avro Arrow was a full-scale mockup of the Avro Arrow. The replica, which was used for several scenes in the mini-series, has had a history almost as tortured as the Arrow itself.

Today the Arrow replica sits in a warehouse in the grounds of the Reynolds-Alberta Museum near a hanger that houses Canada's Aviation Hall of Fame and one of Canada's largest collections of historic aircraft. The museum and the hall are adjacent to the tarmac of the airport at Wetaskiwin, Alberta, a small town about 40 miles south of the provincial capital of Edmonton.

The replica was largely built by Mr. Allan Jackson, a Wetaskiwin man whose hopes of working in aviation were dashed when the Arrow was cancelled in 1959. He got work with a steel grating manufacturer in Wetaskiwin, and in 1989, he decided to start building a full-scale replica of at least part of the Arrow. He started with the nose section, and then decided to press on and build the entire aircraft.

In 1996, when the Arrow miniseries was in production, the producers found out about Jackson, and they offered to complete the job if they let him have his replica, which by then was about 70 per cent complete.

When Jackson got his replica back after the filming, he found out to his dismay that history had repeated itself. The replica had been used not only to depict happy days such as the rollout of the Arrow in 1957, but also its destruction after "Black Friday" in 1959. Like the Arrow itself, the replica had been dismantled with torches.

Jackson spent months putting his replica back together, and then he was approached by the Abbotsford Airshow, the event that takes place in British Columbia's Fraser Valley each August. His replica became one of the star attractions of the 1997 Airshow, and it was there I first saw the replica.

After its appearance at Abbotsford, I never heard of the replica again. I had heard at Abbotsford that it would be returned to Wetaskiwin, but the presence of the replica didn't seem to be publicized.

Arrow Replica in Abbotsford, 1997.

I found this more and more puzzling given the fact that groups of Canadians are planning to build flying replicas of the Arrow, and dive in Lake Ontario looking for models of the CF-105 that flew in sounding rocket tests.

On a visit to Edmonton in June 2000, I decided to go down to Wetaskiwin to see for myself what had happened.

As soon as I arrived on the musem grounds, I could see the Arrow replica parked outside the Hall of Fame hanger, next to the airport tarmac, and not far from other aircraft, including an Avro CF-100.

At first glance, it looked like the Arrow was set to take to the air, but a second look showed that the replica was not even fit for display. The replica's tail was covered in cloth, as was a small part of the fuselage. Tires lay on the wings. And most sadly, much of the tail was broken off.

An employee in the museum said there was then no place inside the museum to store the replica, and explained that the tail had been blown off in a wind storm.

I asked for some more information and found out that the directors of the Aviation Hall of Fame are working on building a new and larger Aviation Gallery to house the aircraft in the collection and the replica of the Arrow. But planning and fundraising are still going on.

Since my visit, the Arrow replica has been moved indoors. Inside a giant warehouse with other aircraft and vehicles awaiting display space, repair work to repair the replica has been completed by Mr. Jackson.

The Hall of Fame honours many Canadians who have made major contributions to Canadian aviation, including many people involved with the Avro Arrow such as Jim Floyd, Jim Chamberlin, Jan Zurakowski, Jack Woodman, John Plant and others.

Some of the aircraft on display inside the Hall include a de Havilland "Cirrus" Moth, an Avro Avian IV, a Hawker Hurricane, and many other vintage aircraft. The Arrow replica doesn't sit alone outside the museum. The Reynolds-Alberta Museum honours the "spirit of the machine" and has a large collection of automobiles, motorcycles, bicycles, tractors and farm machinery.

The website for the Museum is at Canada's Aviation Hall of Fame web address is The Hall is at P.O. Box 6360, Wetaskiwin, Alberta, T9A 2G1. The Hall is doing excellent work celebrating Canada's aviation heritage. The hall does need encouragement, both moral and financial.

And anyone going to Alberta should visit the Reynolds-Alberta Museum and Canada's Aviation Hall of Fame for a fun and educational experience.

The museum has added a 100,000 sq ft, ( 9,000 sq m), addition to it's warehouse to house the now repaired replica and 21 other aircraft.

The Arrow Replica is now stored inside the Museum's Storage Facility and tours are not available.

photo credit:Scott McArthur



Chris Gainor is writing a book about the engineers who went from Avro Canada in 1959 to work on the U.S. space program. Thirty-one engineers from Avro went to NASA and played major roles in the U.S. human space program, and others from Avro worked with U.S. aerospace contractors. Gainor has had a lifelong interest in space exploration and is a Fellow of the British Interplanetary Society. He is a communications professional in Victoria, B.C. As a journalist, he won a National Newspaper Award and has written about space exploration for publications including the Globe and Mail, the Vancouver Sun, the Medical Post, Spaceflight magazine, and Quest, the history of spaceflight quarterly.


NAIT Students Restore Avro Arrow Model


Students and instructors from NAIT's Aircraft Structures program have volunteered close to 400 hours restoring a full-scale model of the legendary Avro Arrow. This model was used in CBC's miniseries starring Dan Aykroyd and was need of a complete overhaul to be displayed at the Reynolds-Alberta Museum in Wetaskiwin. The project is part of celebrations marking the 100th anniversary of powered flight in Canada and the 50th anniversary of the cancellation of the Avro Arrow. The completed Arrow is due to be completed in July 2009.


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FYI: The NAIT Engineering Teams have also worked on the AV Roe Heritage Museum Flying Arrow!




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