On August 29, 1949, the Soviet Union conducted their first successful nuclear test, beginning the decades-long nuclear arms race between the Soviet Union and the United States. Canada emerged from the Second World War as the second most powerful aircraft manufacturer in the world. When the threat became Soviet bombers crossing the North Pole, the nation rose to the challenge, designing an airplane so advanced, so ahead of its time, that it would require designing everything, from the engines to the avionics, from scratch. The Avro Arrow was the West’s defender against nuclear annihilation, but all that changed on one fateful day.
The day the Arrow was unveiled to the public, the Russians launched Sputnik. The West assumed that it wouldn’t be long before they armed their rockets not with satellites, but with nuclear warheads. The stunning realization was that even the most advanced airplane couldn’t catch a missile. Even though the bomber-threat was still real for many more years, this set in motion a series of events which destroyed all traces of a Canadian icon and a great feat of engineering.