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Hagerty Employee

The Queen of the Hurricanes drove a Model A Roadster

At the Canadian Museum of flight in Langley B.C., docents donned gloves to push a gorgeous Ohio-built, red and cream 1937 Waco AQC-6 out of the hangar, parking it next to a fawn-colored Ford Roadster. The Roadster, a 1931 Deluxe model owned by Ed and Susan Beye, have driven it out on this overcast day to pay tribute to a legendary pioneer in Canadian aviation. Her name was Elsie MacGill, and she was the world’s first female aeronautical engineer. She was a woman of many firsts.


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What an inspiring bit of CanCon.  Nice closing line too.

Intermediate Driver

One of the flight museum's docents had been an air cadet in Ontario, and had actually toured the factory where the Hurricanes were built as a kid. They had a little display set up to Elsie in the hangar. 


there is much more to the Avro Arrow story. in 1959 it was the most advanced interceptor in the world, would smoke anything the Brits, Russians, or Americans had at the time. it went "over budget" only because potential buyers backed out. then some idiot ordered the project not only shut down, but all documents, aircraft, tooling etc destroyed. the brains from AVRO went to NASA. the rest is history. read "storms of controversy" to know more.

Intermediate Driver

As a teenager, my late mother worked in the Canada Car plant in Ft William (where i was born in 1944) building Curtis Helldivers at 37 cents/hour. Uncertain of the year, but late 30's or early 40's obviously.



There is a little Soviet espionage that does not get mentioned in the movie.   

AVRO Canada was rife with Russian spies.  


Inspiring story!

Pit Crew

Great article!  Thank you

Advanced Driver

Great story! And comments as well - now I have more to read up on!

Thanks all.

Pit Crew

Good article. Although I spent 40 years ( the last 10 as the engineering executive responsible for Design) designing jet engines at Pratt and Whitney Canada in Montreal, I never heard of Elsie MacGill. She is obviously an ideal role model and made well recognised contributions to the industry. We need more publicity for this kind of trailblazing excellence in Canada.

I mention that the AVRO Arrow was not a fighter but was designed specifically to be a high altitude interceptor of Soviet bombers coming over the Pole. It successfully met that requirement, but was cancelled in disagreement between the then Prime Minister John Diefenbaker and the head of AVRO Canada Crawford Gordon, who fired the whole staff on Black Friday over the corporate intercom system. The Bomarc missiles, which were supposed to replace the Arrow, were unsuccessful and in the end the RCAF had to buy US aircraft. The Iriquois engines designed specifically for the Arrow mission were the first in aviation to have a two spool compressor and titanium alloy compressor rotors.

Intermediate Driver

Some footage of an Iroquois being tested:

I once was able to ask Gen Chuck Yeager about the AVRO, and he said it wasn't very good. The avionics weren't sorted out yet - but with more development, it could have been such a cool plane. I would love a Ford GT (built by Multimatic in Markham, ON) to wear the AVRO's livery. 

I also read something from an AVRO test pilot who said they once buzzed a nearby F-86 Sabre squadron on the US side. As a high-speed interceptor (as you point out, not a fighter, mea culpa), the Arrow was overhead and gone before the Sabres could scramble. If this actually happened, I imagine it didn't help relations among the brass of both countries.

Advanced Driver

Nice pics of Wings/Wheels .. How about a pic of the LADY??


Nice story and well written. Not well executed though if you forget to put in a picture of her.


New Driver

There is a new public school here in Thunder Bay named in her honour.

École Elsie MacGill Public School


Excellent story.  I appreciate the history lesson.  More articles like this are welcome.

Pit Crew

Fabulous article about a gifted Canadian finally getting the recognition that was long overdue.  For all the Arrow-heads that are weighing in on this subject of one of Canada's greatest accomplishments, author Palmiro Campagna has a just released two part series of freedom of information research from the Library of Archives Canada, with, among other things references to the USAF desperate need for fighter planes in 1960 because they only had 5 ICBM's.  Anyone Arrow-Head reading may also have a different opinion of Diefenbaker after the things he said about the plane in 1960.

Intermediate Driver

Very inspiring!  I agree that it would be great to have more stories like this, and it would be great to see pictures of her.  The car and plane, by the way, are both awesome!  Thanks!

Pit Crew

Great story and photos, but could you not find at least one picture of Elsie? It certainly would have helped personalize the narrative.

New Driver

Yes!  A photo of this indomitable lady would seem to be REQUIRED.  This is an editor's responsibility. Otherwise - a very interesting story.

Intermediate Driver

Photo licensing and publishing permissions are always a bit of a headache for various reasons, but on reflection I really should have tried a bit harder to hunt down a photo. I'm choosing to blame, er, brain damage from standing too close to the Waco when they fired it up. That thing was LOUD.

Here's Elsie's recent Heritage Minute:

Intermediate Driver

Brendan, I have been following your writing for years and have always loved your work; this story is right up there with your best!  As a fellow BC'er and living in Langley, this piece was awesome to see in Hagerty!  Wonderful history.