Amy Johnson:

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Born On The: 1st July 1903.
Died On The: 5th January 1941.
Occupation(s): Aviator.

Zodiac: Born under the Star Sign CapricornCapricornWhat Star Sign are You?

Achievement(s): The first woman to fly solo from Britain to Australia and awarded a CBE in recognition of the achievement.

Biography:

Johnson was born in Hull, also known as Kingston upon Hull, and was educated at Boulevard Municipal Secondary School and the University of Sheffield, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree 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 the 6th July 1929 at the London Aeroplane Club under the tutelage of Captain Valentine Baker; in that same year, she became the first woman in England to be granted an Air Ministry's ground-engineer license in December 1929.

With funds from her father, always one of her strongest supporters, and Lord Wakefield she purchased G-AAAH, a second-hand de Havilland Gypsy Moth that she named 'Jason', after her father's trade mark.

Johnson first achieved worldwide recognition when, in 1930 at 26, she became the first woman to fly solo from Britain to Australia; flying Jason, she left Croydon, south of London, on the 5th May 1930 and landed in Darwin, Australia on the 24th May 1930; her 8,600 mile flight took 19.5 days; according to reports, she had previously had only 75 hours of flying time experience; the Daily Mail awarded her £10,000, a record paid for a feat of daring; Johnson was also awarded the C.B.E. from King George V.

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.

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 miles (2,830 kilometres) 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.

On the 29th July 1932, Amy Johnson married the famous Scottish pilot Jim Mollison, he proposed to her during their first flight together, only eight hours after they had met; in July 1932, Johnson 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 flight was with Mollison, she flew a de Havilland Dragon Rapide, G-ACCV named 'Seafarer', 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 and both of them suffered minor injuries; 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 because of engine trouble; in May 1936, Johnson made her last record-breaking flight, regaining her London to Cape Town, South Africa record in G-ADZO, a Percival Gull Six, which had been surpassed by Flight Lieutenant Tommy Rose

In 1938 she divorced Mollison and soon afterwards she reverted back to using her maiden name; in 1940, during the Second World War, Johnson joined the newly formed ATA, Air Transport Auxiliary, to help the wartime effort; it was their job to transport Royal Air Force aircraft around the country and she rose to First Officer; her ex-husband Jim Mollison also flew for the ATA throughout the war; according to the Royal Air Force History website, she received a huge salary of £6 per week.

She died on the 5th January 1941, whilst flying an Airspeed Oxford for the Air Transport Auxiliary from Blackpool to RAF Kidlington near Oxford, Johnson went off course in adverse weather conditions; reportedly out of fuel, 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; a memorial service was held in the church of St. Martin's in the Fields on the 14th January 1941.

Johnson was the first member of the Air Transport Auxiliary to die in service; her death in an Oxford aircraft was ironic, as she had been one of the original subscribers to the share offer for Airspeed; the incident also led to the death of her would-be rescuer, Lt Cmdr Walter Fletcher of HMS Haslemere.

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.

In 1999 it was reported that Tom Mitchell, from Crowborough, Sussex, claimed to have shot the heroine down when she twice failed to give the correct identification code during the flight; he said: "The reason Amy was shot down was because she gave the wrong colour of the day [a signal to identify aircraft known by all British forces] over radio." Mr. Mitchell explained how the aircraft was sighted and contacted by radio; a request was made for the signal and she gave the wrong one twice; "Sixteen rounds of shells were fired and the plane dived into the Thames Estuary. We all thought it was an enemy plane until the next day when we read the papers and discovered it was Amy. The officers told us never to tell anyone what happened."

All her accomplishments and daredevil flying exploits were well recognised in her day and not only was she formally acknowledged by dignitaries, she also received much public interest, becoming a celebrity and an icon of her age; many of the artefacts and records associated with Amy Johnson have now been donated to museums.

The De Havilland Gipsy Moth aeroplane which Johnson used on her solo flight to Australia, resides in the Science Museum’s collection and is on display in the Flight Gallery.

Personal items belonging to Amy Johnson's can be seen in the museum at Sewerby Hall, Yorkshire; the collection contains over 130 objects and was donated by the Johnson family in 1958; the most notable items to be given were the pilot’s logbook, dated from 1928 to 1938, and a leather bag which was recovered after her death.

The Royal Air Force Museum at Hendon has a collection of documents and artefacts relating to Amy Johnson’s life from her birth certificate to documents describing the winding up of her estate; it includes flying licences, log books, publications, memorials, honours and awards; complementing these are personal papers, photographs and contemporary publications.



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