Canadian Aviatrix #78 – Kay Kinman (1916-2008)

Katherine Ellen Kinman (known as Kay) was born on 28 January 1916 in Toronto, Ontario, to John Frederick Kinman and Daisy Alice Spanswick.



1931 census


Toronto ON










[6 – not present]


It’s unclear where the family were in 1921, but I’ll keep looking as it may hold an answer to where John came from. He says he’s from England, like Alice, but I haven’t been able to confirm that yet. Plus, his fortune takes a big leap and I’m not sure why!

John was a chauffeur in 1914 and 1916, but by 1931, he was independently wealthy and the family lived a privileged life. Alice was the first person from Toronto to ride the Graf Zeppelin, flying over Switzerland from Germany, before travelling on to the Riveria and Monte Carlo.

Kay attended boarding school in England, then returned to Canada and attended the Ontario Ladies College. She graduated from the “Commercial Course” in 1933. She was also May Queen, Chairman of the yearbook editorial committee, Vox Representative of the Dramatic Club, lettered in swimming, President of her class and winner of the George Cormack Memorial Gold Medal for the highest standing.

After graduation, Kay spent two years studying languages in Switzerland, where she became interested in flying. The family regularly travelled around Europe and stayed at the Plaza Hotel when they were in New York.

By 1939, Kay had taken up flying back in Canada – soloing in November. It wasn’t all plain sailing though – she was the passenger in a rented plane which accidentally landed in water near the airport. She and the pilot put on lifejackets and swam 25 yards to shore, as their plane sank in eight feet of water. “It was terribly cold but we made it. I sure feel lucky, though.”

On 20 June 1940, Kay passed her flying test and received her PPL, making her the 78th female pilot in Canada. She was 24 years old.

Canadian Aviatrix #78 – Kay Kinman (1916-2008) 

Photo: Star Weekly (January 6, 1940)

In 1941, Kay married Hugh Christopher Saarup – he was also a pilot, a member of the RCAF Air Observers School. They honeymooned in North Bay and Ottawa. The couple had six children and lived in Arizona. Hugh died in 1994.

Kay died in 2008, two weeks before her 92nd birthday.

Note: Kay was listed with an asterisk in No Place for a Lady – meaning the author hadn’t been able to find her. I just had “K.E. Kinman” and the date of her PPL.

Canadian Aviatrix Project

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