The author of Throttle to Bottle is to be posthumously inducted into the B.C. Aviation Hall of Fame this month.
Jack McNeill, who ran a number of popular local bars and restaurants over his 55-year residence in Sidney, is to be celebrated on July 18 at the BC Aviation Museum. Eleanor Eastick, herself a pilot, co-wrote McNeill’s book and says he flew all types of aircraft, from LearJets to a host of amphibious planes.
“It was hard to get going on the book as you don’t know where to start,” she says of McNeill’s rich life, “Once we started it just went ripping on but Jack wasn’t very well at this time. He said time was short and indeed the book was published a couple of months before he died.”
McNeill died on Nov. 21, 2017 aged 85, but had a colourful life, running Boondocks Pub, Mary’s Bleue Cafe and Theo’s Place. He came from an energetic family with his love of flying seemingly in his genes. His grandfather moved to Edmonton from Glasgow and promptly founded McNeill’s Field, the first airport in Canada, which later became Edmonton Municipal Airport. He was later named an Albertan Man of the Century in 2005.
After a stint working in the Alberta oilfields in 1947, McNeill embarked on a long aviation career seeing service with Pacific Western Airlines, “Flying Phil” Gaglardi and assisting the B.C. government with pilot training. McNeill was something of a pioneer and worked hard to formalize many of B.C.’s aviation procedures and standards, especially when it came to safety. He became director of Flight Operations and chief executive check pilot on all land and sea aircraft operated by the government of B.C. Eastick says McNeill’s work directly contributed to BC Air Services enjoying an accident-free period between 1974 - 1994.
Throttle to Bottle is described as a light-hearted look at McNeill’s life and the memoir also includes his work on the Distant Early Warning (DEW) Line during the height of the Cold War and his involvement with the Social Credit Party.
His induction to the BC Aviation Hall of Fame on July 18 is described as a private affair, but Eastick says the recognition of his work will fill all those who knew him with pride.
Throttle to Bottle can be purchased at Tanner’s Books and Boondocks Pub. Visit Tanner’s website at Tannersbooks.com.