Researchers have found a test model of the iconic Avro Arrow fighter jet at the bottom of Lake Ontario, according to a group working to recover lost pieces of Canada’s aviation history.

Raise the Arrow said new sonar imagery confirmed the first discovery of an Avro Arrow free-flight model since they were abandoned in the lake nearly six decades ago. The group promised photos and video of the find will be revealed publicly on Friday.

“The models were part of the design test program for the Avro Arrow at Point Petre in the mid-1950’s, and were an important step in the final design work for the Arrow,” Raise the Arrow expedition leader John Burzynski said in a media release on Thursday.

The models are flying replicas of the actual aircraft. Nine were launched in a series of tests between 1954 and 1957.

The Arrow was built for the Royal Canadian Air Force by Avro Canada in Malton, Ont.

Ottawa abruptly cancelled the Avro Arrow project in 1959. All related materials, including the completed jets and production tooling, were ordered to be destroyed.

Key pieces of the project lie at the bottom of Lake Ontario, including the test models, which are about one-eighth of the size of the real jets. The models are three metres long, with a two-metre wingspan. The CF-105 Arrow measured to 24 metres tip-to-tail, with a 15-metre wingspan.

The full-sized jet was considered a massive achievement for the Canadian aviation industry. The Arrow’s delta-winged design and supersonic, near-Mach two speed put Canada on the map as a high-technology industrial force.

OEX Recovery Group, which is spearheading the Raise the Arrow project, said it started searching near Point Petre, Ont., in July.

“The work continues and we hope to make additional discoveries as the survey progresses,” Burzynski said.

Raise the Arrow posted a photo of a “high-priority target” to their Facebook page on Thursday night. The group said a remotely operated vehicle has been deployed to capture a clearer image, which will be posted Friday at 11 a.m. ET.

A high-priority target has been identified! It appears to resemble an Avro Arrow free-flight model. We have deployed...

Posted by Raise the Arrow on Thursday, September 7, 2017

Any Avro materials discovered by the search team will find new homes at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum in Ottawa and the National Air Force Museum of Canada in Trenton, Ont.

The search and recovery efforts of OEX are being sponsored by a group of Canadian mining companies and financial institutions. Other sponsors include the RCAF, the Canadian Coast Guard, the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, and the Canada Aviation and Space Museum.