December 18th marked 70 years

Steph Armstrong
Staff Reporter

Barry’s Bay — Dec. 18, 2022, marked the 70th anniversary when Janusz ‘Zura’ Zurakowski piloted the CF-105 Avro ‘Arrow’ through the sound barrier and became the first pilot in Canadian history to do so – a feat that was thought to be impossible at the time.

Janusz Zurakowski was born in 1914 to Polish parents in the town of Ryżawka. In 1921, the Treaty of Riga drew up a new border between Soviet Russia and the Second Polish Republic. The new border placed Ryżawka in Soviet territory, so the Zurakowski family fled their home; escaping into the newly formed
Polish Republic.

In 1934, Zurakowski joined the Polish Air Force and entered the Air Force Officers’ School. He went on to serve as a fighter pilot posted with the 161 Fighter Squadron in Lwów, and five years later, acted as flying instructor at Dęblin.

Following the 1939 fall of Poland that marked the beginning of WWII, Zurakowski made his way to England, via France. Zurakowski was originally posted to a unit in France before he was selected to train as a bomber pilot in England.

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