Who was Amy Johnson CBE?


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Once I had decided to base my interactive app on Amy Johnson I visited the Hull History Centre to learn more about her and her life.  Here and also on the internet I found books and websites telling Amy’s story.   Amy Johnson, CBE was a pioneering female English aviator and was the first female pilot to fly alone from Britain to Australia. Flying solo or with her husband, Jim Mollison, she set numerous long-distance records during the 1930s.  A time when flying was very different to now. There were no proper maps, commercial air travel was introduced in 1919 and there was no air traffic control or navigation technology to help pilots.  Flying in 1930 was a hazardous business, few people believed that in the future it would become a safe every day means of transport.  She was extremely courageous, determined and brave as she did not know for definate what she would encounter on her long flights.

  • 1903 – Amy Johnson was born in Hull on 1 July 1903 (the eldest of 4 girls)
  • 1915 – Aged 11 she went to The Boulevard school (now known as The Sirius Academy West, prior to this it was known as Kingston High School)
  • 1923 – She went to Sheffield University in 1923 and gained a BA in Economics
  • 1928 – Her flying career began at the London Aeroplane Club which she joined and her hobby soon became an all-consuming determination to prove that women could be as competent as men in a male dominated field.
  • 1929 – She gained her Private Pilots Licence aged 26; in the same year she became the first British woman to obtain a ground engineer’s “C” licence.
  • 1930 – Amy achieved worldwide recognition at the age of 26 when she flew alone from Croydon Airfield on 5 May 1930, and landed in Darwin on 24 May, a flight distance of 11,000 miles.  She was the first woman to fly alone to Australia and came home to the UK to a hero’s welcome which culminated in her award of a C.B.E.
  • 1931 – In July 1931, she set an England to Japan record in a Puss Moth plane.
  • 1932 – She married Scottish Aviator, Jim Mollison in 1932, with whom she flew in a DH Dragon non-stop from South Wales to the United States in 1933. Competing in the England to Australia air race, they flew non-stop in record time to India in 1934 in a DH Comet. The couple were divorced in 1938.
  • 1939 – After her commercial flying ended with the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, Amy joined the Air Transport Auxiliary, a pool of experienced pilots who were ineligible for RAF service. Her flying duties consisted of ferrying aircraft from factory airstrips to RAF bases.
  • 1941 – It was on one of these routine flights on 5 January 1941, aged 37 Amy crashed into the Thames estuary and was drowned; her body was never recovered.  Mystery surrounds her death to this day with claims that she was mistaken for a German bomber, and was shot down by anti-aircraft guns on her final flight.  Other’s believe that she was on a secret government mission.

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