The book, The Speed of Air: Willard Custer and His Channel Wing Aircraft, is in process.
Late in the Fall of 2019, I finished the manuscript of the entire book, and then submitted a proposal for it to my publisher of choice, Smithsonian Books. Promptly thereafter, the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and the publisher immediately ceased all activity.
Early in the Summer of 2020, during the COVID lockdown, I contacted Robert Englar, an expert aeronautical engineering researcher in Georgia, who agreed to author a Foreword and an Afterword for the book. He did excellent work and helped me with the technical aspects of some of the other sections, earning himself a co-author’s position.
With a few other modifications and another round of professional editing completed, I took advantage of the time to further research selected topics. I gained more material and photographs, and I incorporated them into the manuscript. I also solicited the Air & Space Museum’s Archives for three more photographs I knew they held, only to discover that the Archives were still closed to staff because of the pandemic.
Then in March 2021, after COVID seemed to be on the wane, Smithsonian Books contacted me to say they were operational again and reviewing my proposal. My proposal quickly passed the initial review. The second review was pending, but it was further delayed due to staffing issues.
I did not know it then, but at this same time, my co-author, Bob Englar, passed away.
Since then, I have heard nothing from the publisher, and they do not respond to my inquiries. I presume they are shut down again due to the Delta variant of COVID. The Air & Space Archives also remain closed.
And so, I continue to wait out the pandemic. In the meantime, since I first submitted my proposal, I have not only gained and lost my co-author, but I have also lost my first editor, as well as one of my primary sources, and, hardest of all, my mother.