I will just speak for two minutes and twelve seconds. Time goes too fast for me! I am surprised that already we are celebrating the 40th anniversary of the first flight of the Avro Arrow. I must commend the Aerospace Heritage foundation of Canada, as well as the other organizations that keep the memory of the Avro Arrow as part of Canadian history.
Those were the times when Canada stood at the forefront of a niche technology and I am proud that I was part of it.
The first flight of the Arrow was not my success. I carried before and after many more difficult and dangerous flights . It was successful in a more difficult step created by the thousands of, enthusiastic and hardworking men and women.
They were proud of this aircraft and that's why, later the silent cancellation of he Arrow was such a shock to many.
It was my privilege to work with many outstanding people:
I would like to like to point out that already on the seventh flight of the arrow at the altitude of 50,000 feet, I exceeded one thousand miles per hour.
After 40 years, this performance is similar to the performance of the CF-18 of the Royal "Canadian" Air force.
By the destructive cancellation, Avro missed its potential, but it still lives in the memory and hearts of Canadians.
The success of creating this aircraft remains, and this is the way I would remember it today.
[Applause] Next, the wife and daughter of the late Jack Woodman were
asked to stand where they received a round of applause from the audience.
One is to the employees of Avro Canada and it is addressed to me.
We send out our congratulations, as you celebrate the 40th anniversary of the first flight of Arrow 201. The Arrow was a great achievement that has become a symbol representing all the achievements of Avro Canada:
Your work is an inspiration to future generations of Canadians.
May they have the courage to do things that never have been done before.
On behalf of the 120 volunteers of the Arrow 2000 project, I salute you.
And it is from Doug Hislet who is president of the Arrow 2000 project in Calgary.
And there is another one:
Again, it is addressed to all the employees of Avro Canada
To: Jim Floyd:
Congratulations on the 40th anniversary of the first flight of Arrow 201.
It was a significant achievement in 1958, and it would be considered the same today.
Thank you for your efforts and the inspiration that you have left for future generations of Canadians.
And it is signed by the Alberta Four:
Since you just saw the video, you now know how to create aircraft, and since there are so many books available on the Arrow, I thought that it would be more appropriate to address the topical things that have been happening in the current world of the Arrow mania.
And try to answer some of the questions that I get asked almost every day and then keep on repeating the same question. And I will try to answer them. There are few things more topical than the recent CBC film on the arrow unless it is the diatribe from a former colleague of Mr Diefenbaker who said that it was Crawford Gorden who in a fit of spite ordered the destruction of the Arrows and all signs that they ever existed. I don't want to spend too much time on that, because we always get these members or ex-members of the Diefenbaker administration coming out and saying the most ridiculous things in attempts to blame everyone except themselves for the destruction of the Arrows.[Applause!]
A few you may remember on the 20th anniversary of the cancellation of the Arrow Program, that George Hees was interviewed on the CBC Radio program MorningSide and he went on to say that the cancellation was inevitable in any case because the Arrows were completely obsolete before it flew (laughter from the audience..). George Hees stated that the Arrows were designed to intercept Soviet bombers at 25,000 feet and when we found out that the Soviet bombers were in fact going to be flying over at 50,000, we knew that the Arrow would not be able to catch them without falling out of the sky (more laughter..).
Now, these are his words and he obviously never read the RCAF specifications on the Arrow and he certainly didn't know what was going on and what we were doing in the flight tests side. He hadn't read the flight test reports. The reports that "Zura", Spud Potoki and Jack Woodman were doing with the Arrow at that time and at 50,000 feet. He would have been very surprised.
We now have this strange old colleague of Mr Diefenbaker saying that it was Crawford Gorden who gave the order to destroy all traces of the Arrow program in a fit of spite and temper. Can you imagine Crawford Gorden issuing an order to destroy everything that he had worked for so many years and that we all had worked for so many years? And he knew that at that time, I was in the U.K. talking to the Royal Aeronautical Establishment people at Farnborough to try and get three Arrows flown over, to be part of the development program for their Supersonic Transport Program. Those things were going ahead. The discussions were going on at the same time that Crawford was supposed to have ordered the cancellation of the Arrow. That would have been impossible.
The other thing is: Crawford could never have ordered the cancellation of equipment that didn't belong to him, because the government owned the aircraft, Avro didn't own them, it was the taxpayers who owned them. And for Crawford to have even pretended to do such a thing, he would have been marched off to jail in double quick time.
The sad thing, to me any way, and frightening thing really, is that these were the strange characters who were advising Mr. Diefenbaker on the merits of the Arrow at the time of its cancellation. No wonder he was mislead, no wonder he was confused. I don't like to say this but, I suppose really, that I don't want to believe that many of the cabinet ministers in Mr. Diefenbaker's cabinet were either brain dead or did not understand or had no understanding what so ever on what the Arrow program was all about. [Applause]
For those of you who are not sure about and would like to know more about the cancellation of the Arrow Project, I would recommend Palmiro Campagna's book: "Storms of Controversy" . Because, he has gathered together many of the documents that deal with this particular thing and I think that he has done a very good job proving who said what, and when and why.
He is here tonight if you want to ask him any questions.
I also like to read you a passage from Fred T. Smye's memoirs:
Crawford Gorden was the head of AVRO Canada Limited which was a holding company for Avro Aircraft , Orenda Engines and a number of other companies. But Fred Smye was the leader of Avro Aircraft from its birth to its demise. And he was the one who guided the Avro aircraft companies through the whole thing. After the cancellation, when Fred retired he went to Portugal and I went down to see him in Portugal. I was writing my own novel about the Jetliner and wanted to make sure that what I said about him and the project were right and that he would agree with me. I found him writing his own memoirs and he is a very honest person and he told this to everyone there and he was very glad that I had gone down because he tried his manuscript on me ad nauseum! So, I go back now to Fred's memoirs if I really want dates or want to know anything about him.
Now I want to read you a passage from Fred's memoirs because it sets everything into the proper context. It is called:
Jim Floyd: Now you notice the words that are used there: "The government issued instructions". Those are the three terminal words. This he said in his memoirs" That the army would be sent in to act. With this threat, I then capitulated. That was a terrible mistake, one that I will regret for the rest of my life. The destruction was not restricted to the aircraft and engines and components but to everything: drawings, technical data, microfilm, photographs, and models. The existence of the aeroplanes and engines were to be erased without trace. Millions of dollars of the taxpayer's investment in advanced technology were deliberately destroyed. Not the slightest attempt was made to salvage anything from this gigantic investment".
Jim Floyd: Now that I would hope that this information should lay to rest the question of who ordered the destruction of the Arrow: Paul's book and Fred Smye's memoirs. But don't hold your breath. I'm sure it won't.
So much for that horrible subject.....
Do you realize that of all the real names that were given to the fictional people in the film, about the only ones to remain are Jan Zurakowski and myself.
Sir Roy Dobson, Air Marshal Wilf Curtis, Fred Smye, Crawford Gorden, Jack Woodman, Jim Chamberlain, and in the political arena: CD Howe, John Diefenbaker, George Hees and a number of the other politicians, have all found the gossamer wings and flown away from us. The female project arrow engineer didn't need to fly away because she never existed. I guess that Jan and I will have to hang around if only for a little longer in order to keep the record straight.
Its a thankless job, but someone has got to do it.
I have to say that I dread being on the box nowadays, because I know for the next couple of weeks our little mailbox is going to be choked full of letters and we won't be able to get them out because they will be all jammed in the mailbox, and the phone will be ringing off the hook. And they all ask the same questions and everyone wants the answer by return mail!
I do enjoy some of the letters that come from the students, our young cadets, and I brought one with me tonight, because first of all, I think that you will get a kick out of it as I did, and secondly, my answers to this young man will give the feel of what I regard of the recent film on the arrow:
So I will read you his letter:
Dear Mr. Floyd:
I am a seventeen year old high school student. J. Floyd: "I was just thinking, I was a seventeen year old student 66 years ago"
I read all of the books, blueprints, and letters, saw the movie, own the movie and own numerous models.
I saw in the movie that you are helping to preserve the Arrow for Canada's youth. I think that is great. There is nothing that I would like to do more than sitting down with you and discussing the Arrow story. But seeing that I live North Bay, that god dam Bomarc town [much laughter and applause], there is no way that I can get to you, but I do have a few questions
J. Floyd: "And these are such typical questions that I must have a dozen of these"
Number 1) Do yo think that the movie was accurate?
C. Floyd: "We will comeback to these questions"
Number 2) Do you think that your part was played well?
Number 3) Do you believe that there is an Arrow still out there?
Number 4) Was Crawford Gorden a drunken womanizer as he was played in the movie?
I know that I am asking a lot, but if you could write back answering the questions and if you could give me a signed picture of you and the Arrow it would be amazing . And if you are even going past North Bay with a couple of minutes to spare, drop in and see me.[ Laughter]
Just coming back to the questions:
"Do you think the movie was accurate?"
C. Floyd: Well of course not, and it wasn't meant to be.
The script writer Keith Ross Leckie was attempting really, to bring back the spirit of those days and I think that he did that pretty well; I think that he did a very good job.
My only problem with the movie was the use of real names for those fictional characters.
The way that they treated some of those characters I think was a insult to the people who guided the Arrow through some very difficult times. And I still think that it was an insult.
In the many discussions that I had with Mary and Keith Leckie, before the CBC took on the project, I think that I almost drove them crazy by my insistence that those real names be taken out.
The last meeting that I had with them, I got a letter from Keith and I will just read a couple of passages:
"I have conferred with Mary, and Paul and with the other producers. We have decided that you are right. We cannot use the real names for most of the characters that were fictionalized.
We very much respect your position as a guardian about the truth and facts about the Arrow. If we used fictitious names, presented it as a fictional story about the Arrow or made accurate the information that was contained within, we hoped to ease your concerns somewhat. I strongly hope that you can find a way to forgive my dramatic meddling with the facts and to set the spirit of truth for which I tried to tell a wonderful story. "
And I really think that it (the movie) is a wonderful story, but it isn't accurate. It is not by any means accurate. Now, don't get me wrong. I really enjoyed that film and I was one of the people who stood up at the preview of the film and clapped it for about fifteen minutes. I was totally taken with the film. The general presentation was excellent, some of the acting was very, very good, the flying shots I thought were completely out of this world due to a very dedicated team of model makers, and controllers and computer animators which were all quickly put together. As you know, the film won a number of Gemini awards and one of the awards that I was delighted to see was for Special Effects, because they did such a wonderful job. The day after the awards I had brunch with Doug Hislet. Doug was the guy in charge of the effects team.
But despite all of the wonderful acting and technical effects of the film, any truth about Avro and the Arrow was incidental; it was a fantasy.
Any film that leaves out any mention of company test pilot Spud Potoki has to be non-history, it has to be fictional. Spud was the only test pilot who flew all five aircraft, he flew more hours than any other pilot, he flew faster than any other pilot and he was the last pilot to fly the Arrow.
But, there is no mention of him in the film whatsoever, not even in the film or in the roll at the end and I think, on that basis, it has to be classed as fiction.
The same goes for chief of flight operations Don Rogers and chief engineer on the Arrow, Bob Lindley. The omission of any mention of those people and other people who made a contribution to the Arrow puts it into the category of a fiction.
I can also promise you that aircraft designers do not get their inspirations from paper darts, Coke bottles put in a wind tunnel or saw cuts in a model wing of an aeroplane with a hobby saw. [Much laughter and applause]
That is not that way you design sophisticated supersonic aeroplanes.
But you knew that! So, why do you keep coming back and asking me! [More laughter]
The next question:
2) Do you think that your part was played well?
Well, if I would be allowed to say what some of my colleagues said about my part in the movie , I would shut out of this room! [More laughter]
One of them phoned me from the west and said that I should sue the CBC for diminishment of role and of character. I thought that was nice turn of phrase. But on the other hand, they did the same thing with Jan, and with Fred Smye and so many other people, that there is really no time to do any thing like that.
But I thought that it was a nice turn of phrase.
I simply told my young correspondent that if I had been as laid back and useless as the James Floyd in the film, there is no way that I would have survived for so many years as head of that incredibly talented and professional group of engineers. They were the tops. I wouldn't have lasted 13 minutes never mind 13 years, and this is what I told him.
You have probably seen the actor who played me on the "box". He is the one who is selling oatmeal!
3) Do you believe that there is an Arrow still out there?
I had to tell him that unfortunately, except for the bits and pieces in the national aviation museum in Ottawa, that all the Arrows went to the great recycling emporium and probably finished up as garbage cans, toasters and frying pans. And obviously, that is a very great shame. But, it was nice to think that one got away, even in the fairy tale.
4) Was Crawford Gorden a drunken womanizer as he was played in the movie?
How do I answer that? [Laughter]
I have to say, that of all the characters in the movie, the one that was nearest to life was Dan Akroyd as Crawford Gorden! [Laughter!]
And when I now think of Crawford, Dan Akroyd's face pops up. [Laughter]
But, Crawford Gorden was no angel, and which of us are? If we think we are, then we are looking in the wrong mirror. He could be quite ruthless if he thought you were not doing the job as well as he thought you should be doing. With Crawford, you were good or you were out. A lot of us enjoyed that environment, because first of all you knew were you stood and second, it kept you on your toes I tell you. If, on the other hand, he felt that you were pulling your weight and he thought that you were doing well for the company and the country (and he was completely dedicated for putting Canada at the forefront of aviation), then he could be the most dedicated and supportive boss in the world. And I was really angry about the recent Crawford Gorden article in the newspaper.
Crawford was one of the last great Canadian entrepreneurs, and I think that it was a great shame that after the cancellation, that he was thrown to the wolves, and in some quarters, even blamed for the cancellation.
But all in all, the film did bring into very sharp focus that fact that something special was happening in our country in the late 40s and throughout the 50s and Canada had become to be recognized as a world class participant in aviation design and manufacture and admired by aviation experts world wide. Unfortunately, it was all thrown away by the timid chickens in Ottawa.
I am glad to see that Canada is now recovering from those dark days and I understand that by the year 2000, we will be the 4th largest aviation industry in the world. And I think that is a great step and think that we should give credit to the people who are doing this for us we should be proud of them and I think that we should tell them that we are proud of them.
As what we were all those 40 years ago, it is always a good excuse to get together with old friends and to swap yarns and I am delighted to be here. To put it bluntly in the words of George Burns: "At my age, I am delighted to be anywhere!" [Laughter and then a long standing ovation]