July 24, 2020
Avro Canada completed and flew five prototypes of the CF-105 Arrow supersonic interceptor before the program was terminated by Prime Minister John Diefenbaker on February 20, 1959. Known ever since as Black Friday, on that day over 14,000 employees lost their jobs and the Canadian aerospace industry changed forever, never again to produce a state-of-the-art military aircraft. One of the most advanced fighter aircraft in the world at the time, the Arrow was an almost inconceivable achievement by a company that only thirteen years earlier was manufacturing Lancaster bombers under license during World War II. To this day an aura of conspiracy surrounds the demise of the aircraft, fostered by the Canadian government’s subsequent order that all completed and partially completed Arrows be cut up and sold for scrap. Examined in the political and military context of the day, however, the cancellation of the Arrow was largely due to budgetary pressure caused by the growth of the program from a new airframe to development of a new airframe, engine, fire control system, and missile.
Walter Gordon is defense market manager for the Advanced Programs directorate of the Moog Space and Defense Group, responsible for hypersonics and Minuteman III sustainment. His true love is aerospace history, however, in which he engages by bingeing on topics such as Gemini, the Curtiss-Wright P-40 and C-46, Eastman Kodak film return spy satellites, Western New York contributions to Apollo, and most recently the Avro Arrow. He currently serves as chairman of the Niagara Frontier Aviation and Space Hall of Fame, and chairman of the Niagara Frontier section of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.
While working as an engineer in Western New York since 1981, he had a concurrent thirty year career in the Air Force Reserve, retiring as the commander of the 914th Airlift Wing, Niagara Falls, New York, in 2014. He is a veteran of Operation Desert Storm and was the deployed commander of the 914th during the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Walter has B.S. and M.S. degrees in Aerospace Engineering from the University at Buffalo and an M.S. in Strategic Studies from the U.S. Air Force Air War College.