Canadian Women in the Sky

There’s a new book about women in aviation in this country and it comes to you from Elizabeth (Liz) Muir. I was happy to write the foreword to Canadian Women in the Sky: 100 Years of Flight, her exploration and celebration of some of the fantastic women involved in flight in Canada. It is an enjoyable read with lots of great photos. Anything we can do to increase knowledge about these feisty pioneers and inspire the next generation of fly-girls is fine by me!

Here’s a taste from my foreword:

I remember reading once that a plane cannot tell if its pilot is a man or a woman. I was profoundly struck by it. Of course, I thought to myself, it’s so obvious. But for most of our history with aviation, women were told their place was not in the cockpit or the flight deck, or anywhere near an airplane – except, perhaps, as a “stewardess”, as flight attendants were called back then.

Elizabeth Muir shows through the stories in this book that though they were discouraged from it, women wanted desperately to work in aviation from its earliest days. Through determination, pluck, and training, women like Katherine Stinson, Elsie MacGill, Vi Milstead Warren, Felicity McKendry, Roberta Bondar, Maryse Carmichael and others that you will meet in the pages of this book, accomplished amazing things and reached their dreams. They flew the first flying contraptions that were just a collection of struts and wires all the way through to bush planes, four-engine military bombers, waterbombers, and helicopters. They designed and built warplanes and trainers. They went into the skies and into space.


And here’s a link to the Q&A I just did with Liz for the Dundurn site. It was great to learn more about what brought Liz to the project, what surprised her the most about women in aviation, and the one myth she keeps hearing from audiences!

Speaking to Edmonton’s Canadian Club this week

On Wednesday I will speak to the local chapter of the Canadian Club, at the beautiful Chateau Lacombe hotel, following in the footsteps of many luminaries and dignitaries!  I will trace a “Century of Flying in the Canadian North” through a narrative that explores the hope and heartbreak of aviation North of 60.

Looking forward to singing for my supper – or lunch, as it were!


Glowing Review of Polar Winds in Arctic!

Was so pleased to read a review of my latest book, Polar Winds, in Arctic, the Journal of the Arctic Institute of North America, by esteemed colleague Shirlee Smith Matheson:

“As a reviewer and avid reader and writer of aviation history, I take my hat off to Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail for her work in containing this massive history to 224 pages, including a glossary of abbreviations and acronyms, chapter notes, a selected bibliography, and detailed index. Numerous photographs (many in colour) enhance the stories. The appearance of the book is pleasing from cover to cover…. This book has earned its place in the collection of every reader who not only enjoys aviation history but also wishes to learn more about the history of our country and its people. Bravo!”

To read the full review, please click here!

Diversity in Aviation: Air Cadet 699 Squadron


I was invited to speak at a fundraising dinner for 699 Squadron last month in Edmonton, and I was so impressed. These air cadets are leading the charge in diversity – ahead of the RCAF and airlines at this point – and are some of the nicest, most engaged citizens I’ve come across. And they are in terrific shape and can shoot straight thanks to their biathlon training and competitions, so I told them to save me a space in their bunker should a zombie apocalypse strike. Even if it doesn’t, I’m happy to have met them and hope to spend more time in their company in the future!






IMG_3705 IMG_3708IMG_3694


Elinor Florence brings her WWII story to Edmonton


Polar Winds Sparks Memories for Pilot Dan Campbell

“I enjoyed Polar Winds very much – it brought back a lot of memories of various operations that I knew of, or was involved in, during my 30 years in the Air Force.

Most of my career was spent on Search and Rescue, initially with 123 Search and Rescue Flight at Sea Island, B.C. where I was posted after completing Pilot Training on the 5 March 1949.

There are two items in your book that I can show my friends and say I had an input. The first is the picture of the three Alberts [Grumman Albatrosses] on their steps on page 128. The photographer took the picture from an
H-21 that I was flying. We were attempting to duplicate a famous photograph taken during the war in the same location of three Cansos.

The second item is the mention on page 146 that an RCAF helicopter had flown Senator Kennedy to the base camp on Mount Kennedy. I was the pilot of that helicopter, CH113 10402. However, we had only gone into Whitehorse to refuel because Juneau Alaska, the closest airport to Trapper Lake, where we were recovering Para Rescue equipment that had been left there the previous fall, did not have JP 4.  We had refueled and were about to take off when the tower advised us that we had better wait because Senator Kennedy was trying to get permission from the Prime Minister to use our helicopter because the weather was below limits at the mountain for fixed wing aircraft. He did get permission and we ended up working for the National Geographic for the next week before we were able to return to Comox. Two months later we were tasked to return to Whitehorse and recover a Bell 47 helicopter that had been stranded at the 13000 level on Mount Kennedy. We completed that task on the 15 May 1965.

A rather flowery article in the local weekly covering some other operations I was involved in during my career can be seen in the May 6,2010 issue of Incidently the Norwegian Captain referred to in the Rumba incident in the article, along with his wife Sigrid, were surprise guests at our 60th wedding anniversay anniversary at which he gave a great speech from his perspective of the rescue of himself and his crew.

Once again thank you for your very informative book.

Dan Campbell”

Call for Proposals for Aviation History Convention in Hamilton June 2015



The Canadian Aviation Historical Society (CAHS) is holding its 2015 convention in Hamilton, Ontario, from 17-21 June, at the Courtyard Marriott Hotel. The theme will be “Celebrating Canada’s Aviation Industry” with sessions exploring civilian and military topics.

This convention is open to all – university students, aerospace industry professionals, academics, professionals in aviation or heritage industries, and aviation enthusiasts of every kind. International presenters are also welcome. Our focus will be on history, but we welcome proposals addressing the current aerospace industry and those utilizing multi-disciplinary approaches. Presentations should be 30 minutes in length and may be formal academic papers or informal talks. Power point will be available.

As part of the CAHS 52nd Annual Convention, the conference will include a trip to the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum for its annual Father’s Day weekend flying event plus other aviation-related events and activities. Held near the Hamilton International Airport and only a short distance from Canada’s primary aviation hub, Toronto Pearson International Airport, a variety of exciting local and regional (Toronto/Niagara Falls) activities promise to make your trip worthwhile.

If you are interested in participating in our conference, please send a short proposal and a short biography (one page each max.) to Richard Goette and Jim Bell at The deadline for submissions is 15 February 2015.

In the coming weeks we’ll be posting more conference information at, in our e-newsletter (you can sign up for it on the website), and on Twitter (CanAvHistSoc) and Facebook (Canadian Aviation Historical Society – National).


Please feel free to forward and post this message widely!




Dr. Richard Goette                                       Jim Bell

CAHS National Vice-President                 CAHS National Secretary

2015 Convention Co-Chair                                   2015 Convention Co-Chair

Free holiday download of For the Love of Flying (PDF)!

The holidays are here and I’m feeling extra merry, so I wanted to share a free download of my first book, For the Love of Flying for the next few days! Please click on this link  to be taken to the PDF and feel free to share the URL with your friends and family. (Please note: I had to make the images low-to-medium resolution for file size)

Happy Holidays!


Three authors talk stories and storytelling in Victoria Dec 4


Polar Winds Blow Westward

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be launching Polar Winds in several western locales. If you’re in the area, I hope you can make it out to one of the following!

November 20 @ 7pm in Calgary

What: An illustrated and engaging talk about the people and stories behind the book for the Canadian Aviation Historical Society chapter. It will be free and open to the public.

Where: Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) Art Smith Aero Centre, 1916 McCall Landing N.E.


December 2 @ 7pm in Vancouver

Turbulent Tales: The Ups and Downs of Writing about Canadian Aviation

What: Award-winning journalist and author, Carol Shaben (Into the Abyss) joins Edmonton’s Historian Laureate, Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail to launch her new book, Polar Winds: A Century of Flying the North, in this engaging session. The authors will talk about their research and writing, and issues in the exploration of aviation past and present. They will then take questions and sign books. This event is free and open to the public and there will be free refreshments as well as drinks for purchase.

Where: Billy Bishop Legion in Kitsilano


December 4 @ 7pm in Victoria

What: Please join us for a special evening of readings and conversation feautring Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail (Polar Winds: A Century of Flying the North), Lynne Bowen (Those Island People) and Christine Lowther (Born Out of This). Books will be available for purchase from Munro’s book store and personalized dedications (great for holiday gifts!). Register at or call 250-940-GVPL (4875) for more information. Presented in partnership with Dundurn Press, Harbour Publishing, and Caitlin Press.

Where: Oak Bay branch of the Victoria Public Library.  1442 Monterey Ave.  Victoria, BC


December 5 @ 7pm in Sidney

What: An illustrated and engaging talk about the people and stories behind the book, followed by refreshments. Books will be available for purchase and personalized dedications. Free and open to the public.

Where:  British Columbia Aviation Museum, 1910 Norseman Road, Sidney, BC


© 2011 Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail. All Rights Reserved.