A celebration of the 40-year anniversary of mankind’s “giant leap” to the moon was tinged with some regret yesterday over Canada’s missed opportunity to be the first to walk in space.

“It was a frustrating moment,” said Jim Floyd, the chief designer of the Avro Arrows.

“It could have been us.”

The ceremony was staged at a hangar in Toronto’s Downsview Park and included such illustrious former astronauts as Bjarni Tryggvason, who was a payload specialist on the U.S. space shuttle in 1997, as well as a message recorded by Canadian astronaut Robert Thirsk — one of two Canadians currently orbiting the International Space Station.

Some in the group lamented that Canadians might have been first on the moon if the Avro Arrow project had survived.

The innovative plan to build a supersonic jet was cancelled a decade before the auspicious Apollo 11 landing.

A team of 25 senior engineers from Avro Canada subsequently went to NASA to form a group of 33 Canadian engineers who helped the Americans put the first man on the moon.

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