(1932-8: Amy Mollison) Aeronautical Engineer & Pilot
Johnson in her Black Hawk Moth leaving Australia for Newcastle, 14 June 1930 (Image from The Age newspaper on Wikimedia Commons)
BORN 1st July 1903, Kingston upon Hull, East Riding of Yorkshire
DIED 5th January 1941, Thames Estuary, near Herne Bay
WORKED Initially in London as a solicitor’s secretary; based in England but flew all over the world
HONOURS CBE; many aviation medals
MINERVA SCIENTIFICA PROJECT Echoes from Northamptonshire
Entry by Dr Patricia Fara, Emeritus Fellow of Clare College Cambridge and member of the British Society for the History of Science.
Amy Johnson visits Victoria (Image by Public Record Office Victoria on Flickr)
In 2016, the 75th anniversary of the death of Amy Johnson was celebrated by an ambitious two month Festival of the Arts & Engineering. The Amy Johnson Arts Trusthas now been set up as a charity which continues to champion Amy and ensure that future generations of young people know about her remarkable story. Amy herself has no recorded connection with the arts.
Title: Bats Moths and Biplanes Composer: FRANCES M LYNCH Words by: Frances M Lynch and DORIS MACKINNON Written: 12th – 14th May 2020 For: Solo Singer with recorded manipulated voices, Bat clicks, Bi-plane engines and natural sounds. Performed by: electric voice theatre singers – Frances M Lynch, Jenny Miller, Margaret Cameron, David Sheppard, Julian Stocker and Gwion Thomas
The solo singer describes the race and some of the women pilots who took part that day, including aircraft engineer DOROTHY SPICER and Ornithologist & Radiographer MARY RUSSELL, DUCHESS OF BEDFORD. The text describing the bats is mainly from zoologist DORIS MACKINNON’s book, The animal’s world which was based on talks she gave on the radio throughout the 1930s, interspersed with information gleaned from discussions with Wildlife Conservationist DEBBIE SAMWELL and Ecologist Mischa Cross.
Johnson was Britain’s prime pioneering pilot because she demonstrated that women can fly just as well as men. In her appearances at Sywell Pageants, she performed stunning aerobatic feats and took local children for a spin.
School in Hull; a BA in Economics at Sheffield University
Secretary After graduating, she earned money as a solicitor’s secretary
Air pilot Her major career was in aviation; she gained a world-wide reputation for her daring, record-breaking flights
Fashion For a few years before the War, she modelled and designed clothes
Volunteer She joined the Air Transport Auxiliary during the Second World War
She became world famous in 1930 for being the first woman to fly solo from England to Australia. Subsequently, she broke several other aviation records. She is still celebrated as a great female pioneer in aviation.
She was the youngest President of the Women’s Engineering Society.
Did You Know?
Image from the Science Museum
She mysteriously drowned after parachuting down into the icy-cold Thames when her plane crashed. Although she may have run out of fuel or navigated badly, a British soldier has claimed that he shot her down thinking it was an enemy aircraft after she twice signalled the wrong code word.
When she set off for Australia, the Daily Mail reported she had ‘a cupboard full of frocks’.
After running low on fuel, she and her husband deliberately crash-landed their plane in Connecticut, but were given a ticker tape parade through New York.
An Inspiring Woman
She is still internationally renowned for her courage, initiative and determination in pursuing a new and dangerous career that was dominated by men. To satisfy her passion for flying, she was willing to study hard, take risks and ignore criticism.