Dedicated to the people and projects of AVRO Canada & Orenda Engines
At 6:00pm, Monday February 9th 2004,
Janusz Zurakowski - Jan or Zura as many knew him passed away at his
home in Barry's Bay, Ontario with his wife, and two sons at his side
the funeral was held Thursday Feb 12 at St. Hedwig's Church in Barrys
Born 12 September 1914 in Ryzawka, Russia (near what is today the Ukraine),
Zura fled with his parents to Poland, in 1921, after the Russian Revolution,
he became a fighter pilot in Poland, and fought with the Polish Air Force
when the Nazis attacked Poland. He ended up in England flying with the
RAF throughout the war, he was credited with six kills of enemy aircraft
as a Spitfire pilot in the Battle of Britain, for which he was decorated.
After the war, he was a test pilot in Britain at Gloster working under
Bill Waterton, the Canadian who was the first test pilot of the Avro CF-100
Canuck. By this time he was also an accomplished air show performer having
created the first new maneuver in 20 years.
Jan Zurakowski joined Avro Canada on 22 April 1952 a day after he moved
to Canada. He became chief experimental pilot and led the flight testing
of the CF-100 and later the CF-105. Zura became the first person to break
the speed barrier in a straight wing aircraft, without rocket power, in
a CF-100 (in a dive)!
As the chief test pilot of the Avro CF-105 Arrow and took it for its maiden
flight on 25 March 1958. He retired from flying in 1959 and built a thriving
resort business in Barry's Bay Ontario.
Awarded the McKee Trophy in 1958, appointed to the Canadian Aviation Hall
of Fame in 1973, and many other honours including last year the Zurakowski
Park in Barry's Bay dedicated to Janusz Zurakowski - through all the awards
and fame he remained a very quiet, unassuming gentleman.
I had the honour to meet and talk with Zura at an Avro event and for that
I am thankful - please take a minute or two to remember a man who helped
make Canada a leader in aviation and who was always willing to take a
minute to chat - I am sure his wife and family will appreciate it.
At his funeral the one thing that was said time and time again from those
who knew him best was the accomplishments which he was most proud of was
not his flying career, it was his family - his wife, sons and grandchildren,
I have been lucky enough to be able to meet most of his family, and I
can tell you first hand that they all take after him, they are as friendly
and humble as Janusz, he was right to be proud of his real legacy!
I have asked Bryan Knight a former co-worker
of Janusz to share some memories of Janusz with us:
Jan, of course, was the more colourful
of the two (Mike Cooper-Slipper being the other), although I had less
to do with him at West Raynham or Malton than with Mike. In 1947 -48,
he was working over at DFLS, training Allied squadron and flight commanders
in day fighter battle tactics.
From all accounts, rendered by my late, good friend Lt.Col. Dick Weller
of the USAAC, (See the xbrat47
articles for more info), he was a great pilot and instructor. The one
"big story" I recall from those
days relates to an incident with a rather special Meteor ... Jan had
sent several students in their Griffon-engined Spitfires, on a "train
mission to shoot up trains entering and leaving the Grantham railway
tunnel. Right after they took off, he came over to our Test Flight hangar
and "borrowed" Meteor EE348 ... I think that was its' number
strange craft - it had extra length wings, and a funny chisel-shaped
nose - looked sort of like a Tiger Moth without the prop. He took off,
and set off in pursuit of the departing Spits ... his intent apparently
to intercept the students and scare the living daylights out of them.
He arrived over the tunnel area in time to see a couple of them doing
a standard ground attack run on a train. Immediately he dove the Meteor
at the two Spits, misjudged his approach speed, and overshot in his
the Meteor up in a "high-G" barrel roll climb, prepatory to
another attack, he heard a loud bang behind him, but continued the rolling
climb. When he figured it was time to repeat his dive attack, he
found that the Meteor would not respond but kept climbing and rolling.
Eventually it ran out of steam, turned nose down and headed for Mother
Earth. Speed kept building up and one wing peeled off at the engine
junction .... as I recall the second wing soon followed ! This being
one of the earlier Meteors with the MB ejection system, he jettisoned
the canopy and bailed out ... and made it ... the first pilot to
bail out of a Meteor and live ! The reason ? The bang he'd heard when
he pulled out of his first attack, was the fuselage breaking in two
right behind the wing trailing edge, hence no high T-tail to impale
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20 Feb is Black Friday
It has been 45 years since the last flight of the CF-105 Avro Arrow which
marked the beginning of the end of Avro Canada