Local BBC Sites

Page last updated at 10:31 GMT, Wednesday, 11 August 2010 11:31 UK
Remembering the Hull born aviator Amy Johnson
Amy's birthplace
Amy's birthplace on Hull's St Georges Road

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.

Amy attended the Boulevard Secondary School in Hull. She had a reputation for being rebellious. After school she went to the University of Sheffield and gained a BA in Economics.

After she graduated Amy got a job as a secretary in an office in Bowlalley Lane in the centre of Hull.

Amy's interest in all things aeronautical led to her gaining her pilot's license in July 1929. 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, a motor oil tycoon, to share the cost of buying an airplane. The £600 De Haviland Moth was named Jason after her family's fish business.

hockey team
Amy Johnson (far-right) in her school hockey team

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.

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. She became the first woman to fly solo to Australia.

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.

Amy Johnson
Amy Johnson: Returned to the UK to wide public acclaim

She was awarded a CBE and given monetary awards from newspapers and public subscription.

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 her flying exploits both on her own and with her husband; including flights across the Atlantic and to Africa.

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.

Flight bag
Amy Johnson's flight bag recovered from the Thames in 1941

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.

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.

Flying High, a new exhibition on Amy Johnson is running at the Treasure House in Beverley until January 2011.

Archive images courtesy of Sewerby Hall Collection, East Riding of Yorkshire Council.





BBC iD

Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2018 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific