A search team has released underwater images that confirm the discovery of an Avro Arrow test model at the bottom of Lake Ontario.

Researchers from Raise the Arrow, an expedition led by the OEX Recovery Group, showed the newly captured images during a press conference in Toronto on Friday.

The sonar images and video, captured by a remote-operated vehicle, show a murky descent of about 30 to 40 metres to the bottom of Lake Ontario where the damaged free-flight model is visible lying upside down.

Although the artifact is covered with biofouling, such as microorganisms and algae, and countless zebra mussels, the front nose and wings of the plane model are still perceptible in the footage. The nose appears to be bent, which the researchers believe occurred during its impact with the seafloor, and the starboard side wing was also damaged. The port side wing, however, seems to be fully intact, the search team said.

Researchers say the faint presence of orange paint on some parts of the model plane’s body is significant too, since it appears to match historical photos of the models and is therefore another indication of the artifact’s authenticity.

Overall, the whole model is just over three metres long and two metres wide, according to Raise the Arrow. The nine free-flight models were only one-eighth the size of the actual Avro Arrow planes, which measured 24 metres long with a 15-metre wingspan. The models were launched as part of design test program for the Avro Arrow between 1954 and 1957 in Point Petre, Ont.

The iconic Avro Arrow, or Avro Canada CF-105 Arrow, was a delta-winged interceptor aircraft built for the Royal Canadian Air Force by Avro Canada in the 1950s in Malton, Ont.

They were considered an important example of Canadian engineering ingenuity and achievement in aviation before the program was abruptly cancelled by the federal government in 1959. The completed jets and production tooling were all ordered destroyed.

The reasons behind the project’s cancellation remain a popular topic of historical debate and curiosity to this day.

John Burzynski, Raise the Arrow expedition leader, called the Avro Arrow test models important pieces of Canadian history that were missing up until now.

“It’s a fascinating project,” Burzynski said. “In a sense, we’re bookending the story of the Arrow by finding these last pieces that were the plane.”

Raise the Arrow plans to eventually “raise” the test model from the bottom of the lake. Before then, the team will send divers on a “reconnaissance dive,” according to the expedition’s archeologist Scarlett Janusas.

The discovery is a promising start for the team, which launched its search effort in July, but has been hampered by poor weather conditions. The researchers plan to continue combing the bottom of Lake Ontario for pieces of the remaining test models before the end of fall.

“There is lots to do. We hope to find the rest in the continuation of our project and bring them back to the public in Canada,” Burzynski said.

The project is being sponsored by a group of Canadian mining companies and financial institutions. The RCAF, the Canadian Coast Guard, the Ontario Ministry of Tourism and the Canada Aviation and Space Museum have also contributed to the mission.

For anyone hoping to catch a glimpse of the recovered artifacts, the discovered materials will all eventually be displayed at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum in Ottawa and the National Air Force Museum of Canada in Trenton, Ont.