Morgan Cross / News staff
Like a lot of retirees, Jack McNeill wanted to document his history. A 55-year Sidney resident with longtime ownership of many of the region’s popular restaurants, including Boondocks, Mary’s Bleue Moon Cafe and Theo’s Place, McNeill was also a pilot in his younger years who spent much of his time navigating BC skies. Forty Years Throttle to Bottle, written by Eleanor Eastick and described as, “a light-hearted look at the latter half of twentieth century Canada with the Cold War DEW Line, the rise of PWA and the heyday of British Columbia Air Services and the Social Credit party,” the book divulges some of all-around Canadian Jack McNeill’s most interesting adventures as a young man working in the Alberta oilfields in 1947, his subsequent career flying with Pacific Western Airlines, and the surprising highlights of his years in the air, including a flight with the Royals and time under politician Phil Gaglardi, better known to British Columbians as “Flying Phil.”
“Flying Phil was a big part of my interest in being with the government because he was such an interesting man to be around,” McNeill said. During his flying years, McNeill was hired by the BC government to assist with pilot training and running operations. He was also impacted by his grandfather, who was a pilot himself in World War I. As a child, McNeill spent “every day” at the Edmonton airport.
“It was fun putting the book together. Eleanor did a fantastic job,” McNeill said. The book will be released the week of July 24, where it will find its first home on the shelves of Tanner’s Books. A signing at the British Columbia Aviation Museum takes place this month.
McNeill said, “All in all, when I consider the book, it’s been a terrific life.”