Early Life: Amy was educated in Hull and studied economics at the University of Sheffield. She then worked in London as a secretary to a solicitor. She was introduced to flying as a hobby and gained her pilot’s licence when she was 26. She bought her first aircraft with the help of her father. It was a de Havilland DH.60 Gypsy Moth. She named it ‘Jason’ after her father’s business.
Amy was determined to be the first woman to fly solo from England to Australia.
On 5th May 1930 Amy left Croydon, England and set off for Darwin, Australia. The weather was poor and the aircraft suffered damage on the way, but Amy reached Australia nineteen days later. She was disappointed not to beat the world record flight time of fifteen days, but the flight still made her famous across the world as the first female aviator to make this flight alone.
When Amy arrived back home a huge crowd greeted her. She had a tour of the London streets in an open topped car to see her fans. She was nick-named ‘Queen of the air’ by the British newspapers.
In 1931 Amy set a record for her flight across Siberia to Tokyo.
In 1932 Amy broke the record for solo flight to Cape Town, South Africa.
On January 5th 1941, Amy’s plane crashed into the Thames Estuary. It is thought that she had run out of fuel. She was never seen again. Her body was never found.
Amy was an inspiration to other women, encouraging them to be aviators and seek an interest in flying. There are many local tributes to her, including a statue of her in Prospect Street, Hull, and an Amy Johnson Building on the campus of the University of Sheffield. There are also several streets named after her, both in England and Australia
“Had I been a man I might have explored the Poles or climbed Mount Everest, but as it was my spirit found outlet in the air.”
– Amy Johnson