Amy Johnson

Amy Johnson

Infobox Person
name = Amy Johnson

image_size = 200px
caption = Amy Johnson c. 1930
birth_date = birth date|1903|7|1|df=y
birth_place = Kingston upon Hull, England
death_date = death date and age|1941|1|5|1903|7|1|df=y
death_place = Thames Estuary, London, England (drowning)
education = Bachelor of Arts in economics
occupation = aviatrix
First Officer ATS
title =
spouse = Jim Mollison (divorced)
parents = John William Johnson and Amy Johnson
children =
nationality =
website =
Amy Johnson CBE, (1 July 19035 January 1941) was a pioneering English aviatrix. Flying solo or with her husband, Jim Mollison, Johnson set numerous long-distance records during the 1930s. Johnson flew in the Second World War as a part of the Air Transport Auxiliary where she died during a ferry flight.

Early life

Johnson was born in Kingston upon Hull and attended Boulevard Municipal Secondary School (later Kingston High School). [ "Amy Johnson pioneering aviator."] Hull Local Studies Library, Hull City Council. Retrieved: 26 October 2007.] From there she went to the University of Sheffield, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in economics. She then worked in London as secretary to the solicitor William Charles Crocker. She was introduced to flying as a hobby, gaining a pilot's A Licence No. 1979 on 6 July 1929 at the London Aeroplane Club. In that same year, she became the first British woman to gain a ground engineer's C License.Aitken 1991, p. 440.]

Aviation career

Her father, always one of her strongest supporters, offered to help her buy an aircraft. With funds from her father and Lord Wakefield she purchased G-AAAH, a second-hand De Havilland Gipsy Moth she named "Jason", not after the voyager of Greek legend, but after her father's trade mark (he was a partner in the Andrew Johnson Knuditzon Fish Merchants).

Johnson achieved worldwide recognition when, in 1930, she became the first woman to fly solo from Britain, to Australia. Flying her "Jason" Gipsy Moth, she left Croydon, south of London, on 5 May of that year and landed in Darwin, Australia on 24 May after flying 11,000 miles. Her aircraft for this flight can still be seen in the Science Museum in London. She received the Harmon Trophy as well as a CBE in recognition of this achievement, and was also honoured with the No. 1 civil pilot's licence under Australia's 1921 Air Navigation Regulations. [ "Brearley Pilot's Licences, Treasures of the Battye Library."] "State Library of Western Australia". Retrieved: 15 July 2007.]

In July 1931, Johnson and her co-pilot Jack Humphreys became the first pilots 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 on to 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 famous Scottish pilot Jim Mollison, who had, during a flight together, proposed to her only eight hours after they had met.

In July 1932, she set a solo record for the flight from London to Cape Town, South Africa in a Puss Moth, breaking her new husband's record. Her next flights were as a duo, flying with Mollison, she flew G-ACCV "Seafarer," a De Havilland Dragon Rapide nonstop from Pendine Sands, South Wales, to the United States in 1933. However, their aircraft ran out of fuel and crash-landed in Bridgeport, Connecticut; both were injured. After recuperating, the pair were feted by New York society and received a ticker tape parade down Wall Street.

The Mollisons also flew in record time from Britain to India in 1934 in a de Havilland DH.88 Comet as part of the Britain to Australia MacRobertson Air Race. They were forced to retire from the race at Allahabad due to engine trouble.

In May 1936, Johnson made her last record-breaking flight, regaining her Britain to South Africa record in G-ADZO, a Percival Gull Six.

In 1938, Johnson divorced Mollison. Soon after, she reverted to her maiden name.

econd World War

In 1940, during the Second World War, Johnson joined the newly formed ATA - (Air Transport Auxiliary), whose job was to transport Royal Air Force planes around the country and rose to First Officer. (Her ex-husband Jim Mollison also flew for the ATA throughout the war period.)


On 5 January 1941, while flying an Airspeed Oxford from Blackpool to RAF Kidlington near Oxford, Johnson 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 never recovered. The incident also led to the death of her would-be rescuer, Lt Cmdr Walter Fletcher of "HMS Hazlemere". There is still some mystery about the accident, as the exact reason for the flight is still a government secret and there is some evidence that besides Johnson and Fletcher a third person (possibly someone she was supposed to ferry somewhere) was also seen in the water and also drowned. Who the third party was is still unknown. [McKee 1982, pp. 139-152, 293.] Johnson was the first member of the Air Transport Auxiliary to die in service. Her death in an Oxford was ironic as she had been one of the original subscribers to the share offer for Airspeed.

Honours and tributes

* In June 1930, Johnson's flight to Australia was the subject of a contemporary popular song composed by Horatio Nicholls and recorded by Harry Bidgood, Jack Hylton, Arthur Lally, Arthur Rosebery and Debroy Somers.
* She was the guest of honour at the opening of the first Butlins holiday camp, in Skegness in 1936.
* In 1942 a film of Johnson's life, "They Flew Alone", was made by director-producer Herbert Wilcox, starring his wife Anna Neagle as Johnson, and Robert Newton as Mollison. The movie is known in the United States as "Wings and the Woman".
* In 1958, a collection of Amy Johnson souvenirs and mementos was donated by her father to Sewerby Hall. The hall now houses a room dedicated to Amy Johnson in its museum.
* In 1974, Harry Ibbetson's statue of Amy Johnson was unveiled in Prospect Street, Kingston-upon-Hull.
* Scots singer-songwriter Al Stewart sings about her in his song "Flying Sorcery" from his 1976 album, "Year of the Cat". [ Stewart, Al. [ "Flying Sorcery."] Retrieved: 15 May 2008.]
* A girls' school in Kingston-Upon-Hull was named after her, but closed in 2004.
* The building housing the department of Automatic Control and Systems Engineering at The University of Sheffield is named after her.
* She was the subject of a £500,000 question on the UK version of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?", in which the contestant failed by answering that the plane she flew solo from Britain to Australia was called "Pegasus" (correct answer is "Jason").
* A primary school on Rounshaw Residential Estate (formerly Croydon Airport) is named after her.
* A KLM Royal Dutch Airlines McDonnell-Douglas MD-11 is named in her honour.
* The Wetherspoons bar at Doncaster Airport is called "The Amy Johnson."
* "Amy Johnson Avenue" is a major arterial road in Darwin, Australia connecting the Stuart Highway to Old McMillan's Road.
* "Amy Johnson Way", close to Blackpool Airport, in Blackpool, Lancashire, in the UK is named in her honour.
* "Amy Johnson Way" in the Rawcliffe area of York, is named in her honour.
* "Mollison Way" in Queensbury, London is also named in her honour.
* "Queen of the Air" by Peter Aveyard is a musical tribute to Johnson. [ [ Queen of the Air: Peter Aveyard's tribute to Amy Johnson] ]

ee also

*List of famous deaths by aircraft misadventure




* Aitken, Kenneth."Amy Johnson (The Speed Seekers)." "Aeroplane Monthly", Vol. 19, n0. 7, Issue no. 219, July 1991.
* Moolman, Valerie. "Women Aloft" (The Epic of Flight). Alexandria, Virginia: Time-Life Books, 1981. ISBN 0-8094-3287-0.
* McKee, Alexander "Great Mysteries of Aviation". New York: Stein & Day, 1981, 1982. ISBN 0-8128-2840-2.
* Nesbitt, Roy. "What did Happen to Amy Johnson?" "Aeroplane Monthly" (Part 1) Vol. 16, no. 1, January 1988, (Part 2) Vol. 16, no. 2, February 1988.
* Turner, Mary. "The Women's Century: A Celebration of Changing Roles 1900-2000". Kew, Richmond, Surrey, UK: The National Archives, 2003. ISBN 1-903365-51-1.

External links

* [ Science Museum exhibit on Amy Johnson]
* [ BBC Humber article on Johnson]
* [ BBC page on Amy Johnson's death]
* [ Sewerby Hall, Bridlington, includes a display of Johnson memorabilia]
* [ The RAF Museum, Hendon, includes another Johnson display]
* [ RAF History page on Amy Johnson]
* [ Amy Johnson on Find-A-Grave]
* [ CWGC record]
* [ Amy Johnson: Pioneer Aviator, Article by LaRue Scott]

NAME=Johnson, Amy
SHORT DESCRIPTION= Pioneering English aviatrix
DATE OF BIRTH=1 July 1903
PLACE OF BIRTH=Kingston upon Hull, England
DATE OF DEATH=5 January 1941
PLACE OF DEATH=Thames estuary, London, England

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