Johnson, Amy, 1903-1941

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Born in 1903 in Hull, England, Amy Johnson learned to fly and obtained a pilot's license in 1928. Later that year she became the first women in England to earn an aircraft engineer's license. During the rest of her short life, Johnson made several historic, records flights including flights from London to Australia and London to Tokyo. With the advent of WW II, Johnson joined the British Air Transport Auxilary and while flying from Blackpool to Oxford in 1941, crashed in the Thames Estuary and drowned.

From the description of Papers, 1930-1958. (University of Wisconsin, Superior). WorldCat record id: 30938611

Amy Johnson was born in 1903 in Hull, England, where her father was a fish merchant. She entered Sheffield University where she earned a B.S. in 1926. After working as a secretary for three years, she became a member of the London Aeroplane Club, located at Stag Lane. Not only did she obtain her pilot's license in 1928, but with the teaching of Jack Humphries, became the first woman in England to earn as aircraft engineer's license.

In 1929 she decided to make a reputation for herself by attempting a long distance flight no woman had ever tried before. She chose to fly to Australia so she would not have to pilot over a large expanse of ocean. She had trouble finding financial backing, but finally persuaded Lord Wakefield to front half of the expense for her craft, a DeHavilland Gipsy Moth named "Jason"; her father paid for the other half. After 85 hours of solo flight and a previous cross country flight record of 147 miles, she left for Australia in May 1930. Her trip took 19 ½ days and she became an instant celebrity. She continued making record flights, including a failed attempt to Peking in 1931, and with Jack Humphries as a co-pilot, set a speed record from London to Tokyo in ten days.

In 1932, she married Jim Mollison, who was a leading British Flyer and had set numerous records of his own. He flew England to Capetown, South Africa in 4 days and made the first solo Europe to America crossing a month after the wedding. Ironically, Amy then beat his Capetown record in '32. They decided to attempt a long distance around the world flight, but due to fuel loss, crashed in Connecticut. They later tried to win the Australia-England Trophy Race in 1934, but had to withdraw due to mechanical difficulty. By 1938, they were divorced; Amy began to write articles about flying and gave up the pursuit of long distance flights.

With the advent of World War II, Amy joined the British Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA). While flying from Blackpool to Oxford, Amy Johnson overshot her destination by 100 miles. She ditched in the Thames Estuary after running out of fuel, and although a Convoy Thrawler tried to rescue her, she drowned on January 5, 1941.

From the guide to the Amy Johnson Papers, 1930-1958, (Wright State University, Special Collections and Archives)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Norman Ian and Jeanne MacKenzie Papers, 1935-1964 Sophia Smith Collection
creatorOf Johnson, Amy, 1903-1941. Papers, 1930-1958. Wright State University Libraries, Paul Laurence Dunbar Library
creatorOf Amy Johnson Papers, 1930-1958 Wright State University, Special Collections and Archives
referencedIn Castrol Australia Pty. Ltd. Records. Libraries Australia
referencedIn Thiel, F. W. (Frederick William). 10054 Amy Johnson's Visit to Brisbane, 1930. Libraries Australia
creatorOf Johnson, Amy, 1903-1941. Signature [manuscript]. Libraries Australia
referencedIn Earhart, Amelia, 1897-1937. The George Palmer Putnam Collection of Amelia Earhart Papers, 1785-1948 (inclusive), 1928-1937 (bulk). Purdue University Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Castrol Australia Pty. Ltd. corporateBody
associatedWith Earhart, Amelia, 1897-1937. person
associatedWith Falconer-Stewart, Betty. person
associatedWith MacKenzie, Norman Ian and Jeanne person
associatedWith Thiel, F. W. (Frederick William) person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Women air pilots--Great Britain
Women air pilots--Autographs
Women air pilots


Birth 1903-07-01

Death 1941-01-05




Ark ID: w6cg247m

SNAC ID: 13831483