Amy Johnson

(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 via Wikipedia)

  • 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

Entry by Dr Patricia Fara, Emeritus Fellow of Clare College Cambridge and member of the British Society for the History of Science.

Artistic Connections

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 TRUST has 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 Bi-planes
Composer: Frances M Lynch
Written: May 12th – 14th 2020
For: Solo Singer with recorded manipulated voices, Bat clicks, Bi-plane engines and natural sounds.
Performed by: electric voice theatre singers
First Performed: Online during the Covid19 Outbreak for Brixworth Music Festival on May 15th 2020

This music was inspired by the Sywell Aerodrome Women’s Meeting of 1931 which you can see on a British Pathé News video from the day itself Queen’s of the Air and by the wildlife close by at Pitsford Water Nature Reserve and Brixworth Country Park.

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.

It was created at Birnam Studios, London as part of electric voice theatre‘s Minerva Scientifica – Connections 2020 project, supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.


School in Hull; a BA in Economics at Sheffield University


After graduating, she earnt 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

For a few years before the War, she modelled and designed clothes

She joined the Air Transport Auxiliary during the Second World War

Scientific Achievement

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.