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24 September 2014

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You are in: Humber > History > Local History > Amy Johnson

Amy Johnson

Amy Johnson

Find out about the life and times of Hull born aviator, Amy Johnson.

1 - Early years
Amy Johnson was born on July 1st 1903. in the family home on St Georges Road in Hull.

Her father John owned a fish processing factory. Her mother was also called Amy and she had two sisters Irene and Molly.

Amy attended the Boulevard Secondary School in Hull, and had a reputation for being rebellious. She later went to the University of Sheffield and gained a B.A. in Economics.
After she graduated Amy got a job as a secretary in an office in Bowl Alley Lane in the centre of Hull.

Amy's interest in all things aeronautical led to her gaining her pilot's license in July 1929. She was given flying lesson by comedian Will Hay, who was a keen pilot.

Unable to make a living from being a pilot she became the first woman in the UK to become an Air Ministry qualified ground engineer.

But the lure of flying led her to undertake the first of her epic journeys.
She persuaded her father and Lord Wakefield to share the cost of buying an airplane. The £600 De Haviland Moth was named Jason after her family's fish business.

The plan was to break the world record for flying from the UK to Australia, the record was 15 days and was set by Bert Hinker in 1928.

On 5th May 1930 Amy set off from Croydon Aerodrome on her epic endeavour. There was not much interest in the journey with only her father and a few others to see her off. By the time she had reached her first stop in Karachi she had achieved world wide fame.

Amy's family

Amy with her mother and sisters.

A combination of mechanical problems and bad weather meant that she failed to break the record. She took 19 days, landing in Darwin Australia on Saturday 24th May. Although she did not break the record she became the first woman to fly solo to Australia.

2 - The historic flights
Her celebrity grew and she spent six weeks touring Australia attending public events attended by cheering crowds.
Amy returned home by boat to Egypt from where she was flown to Croydon Aerodrome. A huge crowd greeted her arrival. She was driven through the streets of London in a open topped car, an estimated crowd of a million people lined the parade route.

She was awarded a C.B.E and given monetary awards from newspapers and public subscription.

Amy arrives in Darwin

Amy arrrives in Darwin after her flight

Amy flew home to Hull in the newly repaired Jason.
She attended a reception at Hull City Hall and suggested a trophy to be awarded each year to a Hull child who showed exceptional bravery. The Amy Johnson Cup is still awarded each year.

She married fellow aviator Jim Mollison in 1931 and she continued he flying exploits both on her own and with her husband.

Other journeys she undertook were:

1931 - First pilot to fly from London to Moscow in one day, flying the 1,760 miles in approximately 21 hours.

1931 - Moscow to Tokyo in 10 days.

1932 - New world record for solo flight from London to Cape Town.

1933 - Attempted non stop flight east to west across the Atlantic with her husband . They crashed due to running out of fuel at Bridgeport, Connecticut.

1936 - Regained her London to Cape Town record.

Amy's house

The Johnson's house in Hull

3 - Her mysterious death
With the public losing interest in her epic flights and her marriage to Jim Mollison ending in divorce Amy Johnson joined the armed forces to help the war effort.

In 1940 she enlisted in the Air Transport Auxiliary flying aircraft from factories to RAF airbases.

On January 5 1941, Amy Johnson took off in thick, freezing fog from Blackpool airport. She was on a routine flight to deliver an aeroplane to an RAF base in Kidlington, Oxfordshire.

Four and a half hours later her plane crashed in to the Thames Estuary miles away from her intended destination. Amy's body was never recovered.

Many theories have grown up surrounding her mysterious death.

Welcome home parade

Amy's welcome home parade in 1930

Why did an experienced pilot get lost on a flight that should have lasted only 90 minutes ?

One suggestion was that she was shot down by anti aircraft guns after being mistaken for a German bomber. Another theory says she was on a secret mission.

The truth of what happened will probably never be known.

Images on this page courtesy of the Sewerby Hall Collection, East Riding of Yorkshire Council.

last updated: 23/04/2008 at 09:03
created: 18/10/2005

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