Astonishing Science. Spectacular museum.
Amy Johnson was born in 1903 in Hull. Her father was a prosperous fish merchant, who had taken over his family’s business. Johnson was the eldest of three daughters, all of whom were brought up in the Methodist tradition.
Unusually for her time, she achieved a B.A. degree from Sheffield University in her early adult life. She tried teacher training, a commercial course and other avenues, before taking up flying in 1928.
Through her flying experience with the London Aeroplane Club, Amy Johnson developed the self confidence needed for her future flights. She was one of a growing number of female aviators who started to break records and make pioneering long-distance flights.
Amy Johnson’s most famous flight was her epic journey from England to Australia. Although she did not finish the trip in the fastest time achieved by earlier flyers, she did become the first solo female flyer to complete the journey.
She ended her flight at Darwin, Australia and then flew on to Brisbane to continue her celebrations. However, close to landing, Johnson overshot the aerodrome and crashed the machine. As a result of this unfortunate accident Johnson met her husband Jim Mollison, another pioneering flyer, who piloted her on to Sydney. The marriage did not last long and Johnson resumed her maiden name in 1938, continuing to make long-distance flights throughout this period.
Amy Johnson before her solo flight to Cape Town
After her last journey from England to the Cape, South Africa, and back, she joined the Air Transport Auxillary (ATA) in 1940. Wartime colleagues remembered her as “just mucking in with the rest of us” Winged Victory, the story of Amy Johnson.
Her death occurred on 5th January 1941. She was lost over the Thames estuary after baling out during a mission to deliver an Airspeed Oxford aeroplane. Ironically, after so many years of flying achievement, she was the first member of the ATA to be killed. Her body was never recovered, although her flying bag was picked up, and is now in the collections held at Sewerby Hall, Yorkshire.
Bag belonging to Amy Johnson
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