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Cyril Nathaniel Kleinig (1912–1982)

by Leigh Edmonds

This article was published:

Cyril Kleinig, n.d.

Cyril Kleinig, n.d.

MacRobertson Miller Aviation Records

Cyril Nathaniel Kleinig (1912-1982), pilot and airline manager, was born on 19 November 1912 at Roseworthy, South Australia, third child of South Australian-born parents Friedrich Nathaniel Kleinig, chaff merchant, and his wife Louisa Bertha, née Linke. He was educated at Scotch College, Adelaide (1919-29), where he played in the first XVIII and rowed in the first VIII, and later at the South Australian School of Mines and Industries and at Perth Technical College.

One of many young men who became interested in aviation during this period, in 1930 Kleinig began voluntary weekend work at Horrie Miller’s hangar at Adelaide Airport to gain experience. He also took flying lessons and studied for an engineer’s licence. He then started flying for MacRobertson-Miller Aviation Co. Ltd on regular routes and charter flights in South Australia. During the worst of the Depression he took part in a flying circus that toured country towns to keep the company in business. When MMA transferred its main operations to Western Australia in 1934, he remained to manage its operations in South Australia, serving as chief pilot and engineer. On 2 December 1939 at St Stephen’s Lutheran Church, Adelaide, he married Rona Elsa Thiele, a clerk.

In 1939 MMA’s services were centralised in Western Australia and Kleinig transferred to Perth as a pilot-engineer. He was appointed assistant managing director in 1947. That year he was the first pilot of the Air Beef scheme, which transported beef by air from abattoirs in the North-West. In 1955 MMA amalgamated with Airlines (WA) Ltd to form MacRobertson Miller Airlines Ltd; Kleinig was appointed to the board as managing director. When the airline became a wholly owned subsidiary of Ansett Transport Industries Ltd in 1969, he became general manager of MacRobertson Miller Airline Services. He retired in 1977, having overseen the introduction of the turbo-prop and jet airliners that revolutionised transport in Western Australia, particularly in remote areas.

Kleinig was a perfectionist who liked to experiment with new methods. A leader in the travel industry, he was widely recognised for his role in developing tourism in Western Australia. He was a fellow (1959) and council­lor of the (Chartered) Institute of Transport; president (1964-66) and a life member of the Perth division of the Australian Institute of Management; an honorary fellow (1966) of the Institute of Sales and Marketing Executives; a member (from 1967) of the Western Australian Transport Advisory Council; president (1971-73) of the Federated Chambers of Commerce of Western Australia; and chairman (1973-75) of the Western Australian branch of the Australian National Travel Association. In 1979 he was appointed AO.

Serving the community with enthusiasm and dedication, Kleinig was president (1966-67) of the Rotary Club of Perth and governor (1979-80) of Rotary District 945, as well as vice-president of the Royal West Australian Institute for the Blind. He listed his recreations as gardening, fishing and boating. Survived by his wife, and their son and daughter, he died of coronary artery disease on 17 February 1982 at Nedlands and was cremated with Uniting Church forms. In July the first Fokker F-28-4000 to enter the fleet of Airlines of Western Australia was named after him.

Select Bibliography

  • H. C. Miller, Early Birds (1968)
  • F. Dunn, Speck in the Sky (1984)
  • N. Parnell and T. Boughton, Flypast (1988)
  • R. C. Adkins, I Flew for MMA (1996)
  • Weekend News (Perth), 22 Sept 1962, p 13
  • MacRobertson Miller Airlines Ltd, Jetstream, Apr 1966, p 1, Dec 1977, p 1
  • West Australian, 28 Oct 1977, p 11, 23 May, `Western Australia Week’, p 11, 18 Feb 1982, p 5
  • private information.

Citation details

Leigh Edmonds, 'Kleinig, Cyril Nathaniel (1912–1982)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 2007, accessed online 14 June 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 17, (Melbourne University Press), 2007

View the front pages for Volume 17

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Cyril Kleinig, n.d.

Cyril Kleinig, n.d.

MacRobertson Miller Aviation Records

Life Summary [details]


19 November, 1912
Roseworthy, South Australia, Australia


17 February, 1982 (aged 69)
Nedlands, Perth, Western Australia, Australia

Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.