Canadian Aviatrix #10 – Grayce Hutchinson (born 1911)

Grayce Sandra Margaret Hutchinson was born in January 1911 in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan to Alexander Wallace Hutchinson (a barrister) and Elizabeth Ellen Stewart.

 

1911

1916

1921

1926

Saskatoon SK

Saskatoon SK

Saskatoon SK

Saskatoon SK

Alexander

33

40

44

50

Elizabeth

23

28

32

38

Jean Elizabeth

1

6

11

16

Grayce Sandra

5m

5

10

15

Ruth Hope

-

20 days

5

10

Gwendolyn Louise

-

-

2

6

John

-

-

-

4

Ellen

-

-

-

1m

 

On 12 October 1929, Grayce passed her flying test and received PPL #387, making her the tenth female pilot in Canada and joint first in Saskatchewan (Nellie Carson was the other). She was 18 years old.

Canadian Aviatrix #10 - Grayce Hutchinson (born 1911)

Photo: Star Phoenix (July 19, 1929)

Grayce was active in the Saskatoon Aero Club, taking part in spot landing competitions and dropping bouquets of roses over the crowd at the 1930 Saskatoon Exhibition. She was highly skilled at flour-bombing contests and was hired by the Budweiser Beer Company to drop pamphlets.

On 8 August 1930, she was in a serious car accident. Her boyfriend (TJ Matthews) was a travelling salesman for Fry’s Chocolate and the couple were “on a pleasure drive” at 1.25am when they crashed into a train at a railway crossing. Grayce was thrown out of the window, then dragged beneath the wreckage for 75 yards. She suffered from severe shock and was in grave condition – “Officials said it was inexplicable how the couple escaped death in the smash-up”. Grayce was released from hospital in late October.

(The girls of the family had a series of auto accidents around this time. In April 1930, Jean was a passenger in a car which crashed into another one, breaking one woman’s leg. In July 1931, Hope ran over a city construction foreman and killed him. Although Hope was only 15 years old and unlicensed, the death was held to be accidental, as it was impossible to see the man and no protective measures were in place.)

In 1932, Grayce (through her father) sued the Canadian National Railways, TJ Matthews, and J.S. Fry and Sons for $50,000 in damages. The case was settled out of court.

On 28 October 1939, Grayce married William Howard Solomon, Lieutenant of the 24th Field Battery RCA. The couple had two children – John and Carolyne. She gave up flying at her husband’s request and settled into family life.

However, she never lost her love of flying and, in 1984, she attended the opening of the Western Canada Aviation Museum and met the Queen. In 1995, she was interviewed about her flying days, although she was now going by her middle name and mother’s maiden name – Sandra Stewart.

I haven’t found a record of Grayce’s death yet, but it was some time between her 1995 interview and her sister’s death in 2003.

The First 100 Canadian Women Pilots