Who was Amy Johnson?
Having graduated with a BA Economics from the University of Sheffield,Johnson went to work in London as secretary to a solicitor. She was introduced to flying as a hobby, gaining a pilot's licence at the London Aeroplane Club in late 1929. In that same year, she became the first British woman to gain a ground engineer's license.
She became well-known in 1930 when she was the first woman to fly from Britain to Australia. She left Croydon on May 5 of that year and landed in Darwin, Australia on May 24 after flying 11,000 miles. Her aeroplane for this flight a De Havilland Gipsy Moth (registration G-AAAH) named Jason, can still be seen in the Science Museum of London. She received the Harmon Trophy as well as a CBE in recognition of this achievement.
In July 1931, she became the first pilot along with her co-pilot Jack Humphreys to fly from London to Moscow in one day, completing the 1,760 mile journey in approximately 21 hours. From there, they continued across Siberia and onto Tokyo, setting a record time for flying from England to Japan. The flight was completed in a De Havilland Puss Moth.
In 1932, she married the famous British pilot Jim Mollison, who had proposed to her only 8 hours after they had met, during a flight of theirs.
In July 1932, she set a solo record for the flight from London, England to Cape Town, South Africa in a Puss Moth, breaking her new husband's record.
With Mollison, she flew a De Havilland Dragon Rapide nonstop from Pendine Sands, South Wales, to the USA in 1933. However, their plane ran out of fuel and crash landed in Bridgeport, Connecticut, injuring them both.
The Mollisons also flew in record time from England to India in 1934 in a De Havilland Comet as part of the England to Australia MacRobertson Air Race. They were forced to retire from this race however, due to engine trouble at Allahabad.
In May, 1936, Johnson made her last record breaking flight, regaining her England to South Africa record in a Percival Gull.
In 1938, Johnson divorced Mollinson. In 1940, during World War II, she joined the newly formed Air Transport Auxiliary, whose job was to transport RAF planes around the country. On January 5, 1941, whilst flying an Airspeed Oxford to RAF Kidlington near Oxford, she went off
course in poor weather. She drowned after bailing out into the Thames estuary. Although she was seen alive in the water, a rescue attempt failed and her body was lost. She was the first member of the Air Transport Auxilary to die in service.
In 1958, a collection of Amy Johnson souvenirs and mementoes were donated by Amy's father to Sewerby Hall. The hall now houses a room dedicated to Amy Johnson in their museum.
Scot singer songwriter Al Stewart sings about her in his song "Flying Sorcery" from his Year Of The Cat album.
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