Amy Johnson file photo [28655]

Amy Johnson

Given NameAmy
Born1 Jul 1903
Died5 Jan 1941
CountryUnited Kingdom


ww2dbaseAmy V. Johnson was born in Kingston upon Hull, Yorkshire, England, United Kingdom in 1903 to John William Johnson and Amy Johnson (née Hodge) as their eldest of four children. She was educated at Boulevard Municipal Secondary School (later Kingston High School) and the University of Sheffield in South Yorkshire, England, graduating the latter with an economics degree in 1923. She then worked as a secretary to solicitor William Charles Crocker in London, England between 1925 and 1929. During this time, she joined the London Aeroplane Club and began receiving instructions. She earned her "A" License for pilots in Jul 1929 and "C" License for aircraft engineers in Dec 1929; she was the first woman to earn the "C" License. In 1930, with financial help from her father and philanthropist Charles Wakefield, she purchased a used de Havilland DH.60 Gipsy Moth airfield, naming it "Jason". Later that year, she became the first person to fly solo from England to Australia, a trip that took 19 days and won her a £10,000 prize from the newspaper Daily Mail. In Jun 1930, she was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire. She then purchased a de Havilland DH.80 Puss Moth aircraft, naming it "Jason II". In Jul 1931, she and co-pilot Jack Humphreys complete the first single-day London-to-Moscow, Russia flight; they would go on to Tokyo, Japan, breaking the existing Britain-to-Japan record. In 1932, she married Scottish pilot Jim Mollison and took on his surname. In Nov 1932, she completed a London-to-Cape Town, South Africa flight in "Jason II", breaking her husband's previous record for that route. In Jul 1933, she and her husband flew de Havilland DH.84 Dragon I "Seafarer" from Pendine Sands, South Wales for Floyd Bennett Field, Brooklyn, New York, United States, but ran out of fuel; they crash landed at Stratford, Connecticut, United States. After recuperating from their injuries sustained during the crash landing, they were given a ticker tape parade in New York, New York. In 1934, they flew de Havilland DH.88 Comet "Black Magic" from Britain to India as part of the MacRobertson Air Race; engine trouble forced them to quit the race at Allahabad (now Prayagraj), India before crossing the finish line in Australia. In May 1936, flying a Percival D.3 Gull Six aircraft, she regained her London-to-Cape Town record. In May 1937, traveled to Annapolis, Maryland, United States to study advanced navigation. In 1938, she overturned a glider when landing at Walsall Aerodrome, Aldridge, Staffordshire, England, but escaped without serious injuries. Later in the same year, she divorced Mollison and reverted to the use of her maiden name, Johnson.

ww2dbaseAfter the outbreak of WW2 in Europe, Johnson joined the Air Transport Auxiliary in 1940, ferrying aircraft between various factories and airfields. She was given the civilian rank of flight officer. On 4 Jan 1941, she was ordered to ferry an Airspeed AS.10 Oxford aircraft from Prestwick, Scotland, United Kingdom to RAF Kidlington, Oxfordshire, England, United Kingdom. She made a planned stop at RAF Squires Gate, Blackpool, Lancashire, England and visited her sister who lived in that area. At 1030 hours on the next day, she took off from RAF Squires Gate in snowy weather with poor visibility. At about 1530 hours, she bailed out of her aircraft over the Thames estuary near Herne Bay, before the aircraft crashed into the river. Her parachute opened and was spotted by the crew of barrage balloon tender HMS Haslemere, but the crew failed to save her (the tender's commanding officer Lieutenant Commander Walter Edmund Fletcher was fatally injured during the process and died days later; he was awarded the Albert Medal posthumously in May 1941 for his attempt). It was not known what forced the aircraft down. Her not having spotted her destination in poor weather thus going off course and depleting her fuel was a likely reason, Tom Mitchell of 58th (Kent) Heavy Anti-Aircraft Artillery Regiment claimed in 1999 that he was ordered to fire on Johnson's aircraft after Johnson twice failed to supply the correct response to a radio challenge; Mitchell said that he was ordered by his commanding officer to keep the downing a secret. In 2016, historian Alec Gill claimed that Johnson was killed when she was accidentally sucked into the ship's propellers during the rescue attempt, as told by the son of a former crewman of HMS Haslemere.


Last Major Revision: Jul 2019

Amy Johnson Interactive Map

Amy Johnson Timeline

1 Jul 1903 Amy Johnson was born in Kingston upon Hull, Yorkshire, England, United Kingdom.
28 Jan 1929 Amy Johnson earned her pilot's certificate in England, United Kingdom.
9 Jun 1929 Amy Johnson completed her first solo flight.
6 Jul 1929 Amy Johnson earned her "A" License for aviation in England, United Kingdom.
5 May 1930 Amy Johnson, flying a de Havilland DH.60 Gipsy Moth aircraft, took off from Croydon, Surrey, England, United Kingdom for Australia.
24 May 1930 Amy Johnson landed her de Havilland DH.60 Gipsy Moth aircraft in Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia, becoming the first person to complete this route.
3 Jun 1930 Amy Johnson was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire.
29 Jul 1932 Amy Johnson married Jim Mollison.
14 Nov 1932 Amy Johnson, flying a de Havilland DH.80 Puss Moth aircraft, took off from London, England, United Kingdom for Cape Town, South Africa.
18 Nov 1932 Amy Johnson landed her de Havilland DH.80 Puss Moth aircraft in Cape Town, South Africa, setting a new record for the London-Cape Town route.
4 Jan 1941 Amy Johnson was ordered to fly an Airspeed AS.10 Oxford aircraft from Prestwick, Scotland, United Kingdom to RAF Kidlington, Oxfordshire, England, United Kingdom.
5 Jan 1941 Amy Johnson, record-breaking aviation pioneer of the 1930s, was killed when the Airspeed Oxford trainer she was delivering as an Air Transport Auxiliary ferry pilot came down in the Thames Estuary in Southern England, United Kingdom, near Herne Bay. It was sadly ironic that a woman who navigated her way solo from England to Australia got lost in bad weather. Running out of fuel, she baled out thinking she was over London. Landing in the freezing water, she was dragged under a rescue boat by her parachute and chopped to death by the propellers. Her body was never found.
14 Jan 1941 A memorial service for Amy Johnson was held at the church of St Martin-in-the-Fields in London, England, United Kingdom.

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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Commenter identity confirmed Alan Chanter says:
26 May 2019 01:10:27 AM

Although she was covered with honours and still considered a national heroine by the British public, Amy’s private life was far from happy. She was at pains to present herself with the appearance of a sleek film star even to the extent of altering her Yorkshire accent, but secretly suffered from bouts of depression, compounded by financial worries, which ultimately led to suffering a number of emotional breakdowns which required medical treatment. Outwardly, she appeared an outgoing person, with a warm and generous nature, and other aviators liked and respected her. But she could not find rewarding work in a male-dominated aircraft industry.

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