Maurice M, Kay Sr. was born on February 9, 1906 in Pearson, Kansas. He later moved to Texas and began flight training at the Dallas Aviation School at Love Field in the mid-1920s. He flew independently as a barnstormer, instructor, and contract pilot until he joined Texas based Bowen Airlines. In 1934, he left Bowen and joined Long and Harmon (another local Texas airline), however the airline tried to change previously negotiated pilot pay rates. Kay, along with several other Long and Harmon pilots took their issues with the new rates to the Airline Pilots Association (ALPA, the pilot’s union) and threatened to strike. Long and Harmon retaliated by firing the pilots. The pilot's and ALPA filed and won several court judgments against Long and Harmon and were reinstated to their jobs.

Kay decided not to return to Long and Harmon instead choosing to join American Airlines. Kay flew as a regular commercial pilot with American until 1942 when was he assigned to fly cargo aircraft in support of World War II military operations as part of the Air Transport Command (ATC). In 1943, Kay, and other American Airlines personnel were assigned to Project 7-Alpha and sent to India where they provided combat airlift over “The Hump”. They spent ninety days flying C-87 cargo aircraft over the Himalayas and into Burma and Southern China in support of operations against the Japanese. After the end of this mission, Kay returned to the Air Transport Command, and then went back to regular duties in 1945.

Upon his return to regular flying, Kay became an Instructor pilot who oversaw the transition training of newly hired American servicemen from the military to civilian versions of the DC-3 and DC-4. He then spent three years as Assistant Chief Pilot and Check Pilot before returning to regular line flying. In 1960 Kay made the transition to turboprop Aircraft and the Lockheed L-188, and then to jets with the Boeing 707 and 720. He retired from American Airlines in 1966.

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