Book on Spartan Air Services in the Works

Author Robert Stitt has written several articles about aircraft operated by Spartan Air Services and has recently had a book published on the history of the Boeing Fortress with RAF Coastal Command. Robert is now working on a book describing all of Spartan’s aircraft and operations in detail and is keen to make contact with former Spartan employees or their relatives willing to share memories, photographs, logbooks, newsletters and other items.

Please contact him at


Here are some other aviation projects underway. Their authors welcome your help!

Harold E. Wright would like information on the location of the records of the Magee Trophy Committee from the 1939-42 period. He would also be interested in knowing of any pilots or aircraft with a connection to Saint John, NB, from the 1917-1975 period. Contact him at

Elizabeth Chen is looking for some photographs. She writes: “In 1958/59 my Father Squadron Leader Douglas Leckie RAAF was flying in the Snowy Mountains Australia in the Beaver VH-SMB, this plane is now C-FTCW.” Do you have any records or photos of this aircraft? Contact her at if so!
 Matt Jolley (for Fred Aldworth) is looking for help tracking down an individual aircraft history or squadron records for aircraft DH-82-C, construction number 1339, that flew with No. 33 EFTS in Caron, Saskatchewan then was sold to civilian and registered in the USA as NX82CS. Please contact or if you can help.
Jake McLaughlin is spearheading “a project inviting anecdotes about Canada’s short-lived history of naval aviation from those who were directly involved or whose friends or family members might have been part of that world. If you know of anyone who fits in either category, would you be kind enough to direct them to the website on which anecdotes can be posted. We’ll collect, review and publish the results. Any proceeds from the outcome will be dedicated to funding a memorial to the story of Naval Air in Canada.”


How to track people down – past and present!

I’ve had several people contact me recently who are trying to track down long-lost flying buddies or people related to a particular era or area of aviation (for interviews, research, etc). Here are some general tips on how to do this online, as well as aviation-specific resources.


1. Input the person’s name into Google ( or some other search engine. It may sound obvious, but it’s always my first step and I usually try different things: putting quotation marks around the person’s name (“Pierre Berton” for example), to limit results, trying out nicknames, adding other keywords that might help (a place or thing you associate with them: Canada, Lancaster, etc).

2. If you know what city or province he/she lives in, you might be able to track a phone number and/or address through (in Canada) or (in the US). and are similar sites.


1. Email the Canadian Aviation Historical Society’s treasurer. She can check our database for a name, and if he/she is a member, can forward your contact info (because of privacy laws we can’t give you any of his/her contact info directly).

2. Email the editor of the CAHS newsletter ( and ask to put a request for info in the upcoming edition. If your would-be-contact reads it, he/she can get in touch with you – or maybe someone else will know how to get a hold of him/her.

3. Email the editor of the CAHS Journal to put in a similar request.

3. If he/she used to work for Air Canada or one of its affiliates (Pacific Western Airlines, etc) then you could contact the editors of the Netletter through the AC Family Network  for possible contact details (or a note in their newsletter).

4. If he/she may be a member of the Canadian Owners and Pilots Association (which has thousands of members), they might be able to help you out:

Happy hunting (and please add any of your tips in the comments below)!

Diving Into Another Bell

So the story of the Butterfly and the Diving Bell might have given my brain the kick it needed to get going on the novel (see last post), but it was another Bell that got me going in the right direction. That would be James Scott Bell, who apparently writes suspense novels but whom I know as the talented author of Plot & Structure: Techniques and exercises for crafting a plot that grips readers from start to finish.

A few weeks back I was trolling Amazon and Alibris for books on the craft of writing and came across glowing reviews for this title. I am very happy I put it in my shopping cart because it has really helped to guide the plotting of this book, which, it turns out, was simmering on the backburner of my mind the past few months. Apparently while I was busy doing other things, characters and plot lines were coming together somewhere in my grey matter, crystallizing around my casual research. And here I thought I was just working on other projects and – let’s be honest – procrastinating!

Now I have a deck of index cards with scenes, characters, and questions to follow up on. I have websites and books flagged for research, know what kind of bush plane my heroine flies, and how one of the characters die. Today I get to start figuring out what her dad’s backstory is and learn more about the first setting of the book.

I’m not sure where all this will take me, but I at least I’m moving forward. And if I get stalled again, at least I can tell myself I’m not really procrastinating – I’m just letting my sub-conscious steer the car for awhile…

Giving Props

In today’s street jargon, “giving someone props” is to give them recognition, often by bumping knuckles. In the aviation history circles I’m running with these days, though, “props” are “propellers” – so it seems kind of fitting to use the term to say thanks to my colleagues’ ongoing support.

As many of you know, I am living in Green River, WY far from Canada’s National Archives in Ottawa or any Canadian library. This makes it really hard to do any additional research for my book, or the air tourism article I just wrote for Beaver, Canada’s History Magazine. Through the miracles of internet and a group of aviation enthusiasts with incredible research skills and resources, however, I have been able to get answers to niggling questions like, “did Laurentian Air Services ever operate a Republic Seabee?” or “did Bertrand Airways ever have a base at Fort Coulonge?”

I just want to take a moment and give “props” quickly to some of these wonderful people: Paddy Gardiner, Neil Aird, Terry Judge, Tim Dubé, Bill Peppler, John Bogie, Dick Pickering, and, of course, my father, Jacques Chenail.

Don’t worry, you’ll still get proper acknowledgements in the book and those pints of thank-you beers I promised!

If any of you are interested in planes or aviation history, you should check out Neil’s website ( and the Canadian Aviation Historical Society (

© 2011 Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail. All Rights Reserved.