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Amy Johnson

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Amy Johnson

published by Raphael Tuck & Sons
bromide postcard print, 1930
5 1/4 in. x 3 1/4 in. (134 mm x 84 mm)
Given by Terence Pepper, 2003
Photographs Collection
NPG x126240

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  • 100 Pioneering Women, p. 94 Read entry

    The aviator Amy Johnson (1903-41), an Economics graduate, discovered her passion for flying at the London Aeroplane Club. In 1929, she qualified as a licensed pilot, and later became a navigator and the first female Air Ministry ground-engineer. In 1930, she flew solo in Jason, her De Havilland Gipsy Moth, from Britain to Australia – the first woman to achieve that feat, for which she was awarded the Harmon Trophy, a CBE and a £10,000 prize from the Daily Mail. The aircraft had an open cockpit, no breaks, lights, heating or fuel gauge. Johnson navigated the 11,000-mile flight using coastlines, rivers and landmarks, surviving on three hours’ sleep per night. She undertook further record-breaking flights: to Tokyo via Siberia (1931) and to Cape Town (1932), and was awarded, for the latter, the Segrave Trophy for ‘the most outstanding demonstration of transport on land, sea or air’. From 1935 to 1937, she was president of the Women’s Engineering Society. For six years from 1932 she was married to the aviator James Allan Mollison and undertook numerous joint flights with him. During the Second World War, serving with the Air Transport Auxiliary, she died bailing out over the Thames estuary. Despite her tragic early death, she proved that women could thrive in what were traditional male fields of endeavour.

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Events of 1930back to top

Current affairs

Amy Johnson is the first woman to fly solo to Australia. She flew the 11,000 miles from Croydon to Darwin in a De Havilland Gipsy Moth named Jason and won the Harmon Trophy as well as a CBE for her achievement. She went on to break a number of other flying records, and died while serving in the Air Transport Auxiliary in 1941.

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