Amy Johnson - Pioneering Aviator

05/23/23 01:52:pm

In 1930 – (5-24 May), American aviator Amy Johnson became the first woman to fly solo from England to Australia.  She completed the 11,000-mile journey in a Gipsy Moth biplane.  The ground breaking journey across three continents, fraught with danger and drama, was the first of her several record-breaking world flights. 

Amy navigated using only a compass, plus basic maps with a ruler to plot the most direct routes. She had no radio link to the ground and no reliable information about weather conditions.

During the epic flight she narrowly missed flying into a mountain range, endured a forced landing in a desert sandstorm, another in a jungle among what she initially thought was a hostile tribe, flew through tropical storms and was caught up in shock waves from a volcanic eruption.

Amy battled engine problems, heavy landings, fear of flying over open water, fierce head winds, exhaustion, loneliness, extreme cold in the open cockpit where she flew for up to 12 hours a day, as well as realising halfway through the flight that she would not be able to beat Bert Hinkler's record.

But, wherever she landed, there were enthusiastic local crowds to greet her, growing enormously in number as word of her journey spread.

Amy landed at Darwin, Australia, 24 May 1930, to a hero's welcome. She had become a world-wide celebrity.

Congratulatory telegrams poured in, including from King George V and Queen Mary, and from the British Prime Minister Ramsay Macdonald.  She was showered with gifts and fan mail.  Songs were written about her.  She was later awarded a CBE.  The British press dubbed her 'Queen of the Air.'

Amy's publicity tour was a gruelling round of speeches, receptions and parades. With no time to rest, she was exhausted and crashed at Brisbane's aerodrome in front of hundreds of spectators.  Her Gipsy Moth biplane was virtually destroyed. She suffered only bumps and bruises.

The plan had been for her to fly round Australia in her plane.  Now she had to be ferried as a passenger for the rest of her tour, including being piloted by the Scot, Jim Mollison, a rising aviation pioneer who was later to become her husband.

Amy returned to England on 4 August 1930.  Huge crowds greeted her arrival.  In London – more than one million people lined the parade route as she was driven through the streets in an open-topped car.  Over 300,000 people welcomed her back to Hull, her home city.

Her life was cut short in 1941 when, aged just 37, her plane plunged into the Thames Estuary under contentious circumstances.

#aviation #womeninaviation #amyjohnson #gipsymoth

Loading Conversation


 +61 (0)7 5448 2788
 +61 (0) 439 031 654
 P.O. Box 676, Coolum Beach, Queensland, Australia, 4573