On 5 May 1930, a 26 year old typist from Hull took off from Croydon Airport in a second hand biplane with not much more than a school atlas, flask of tea and packet of sandwiches. She was bound for Australia. At that point, she had held her pilots licence for less than a year and the furthest she had previously flown was from London to Hull. Only her father and a few friends saw her depart on this epic journey as her fragile plane wobbled off into the distance, overloaded with fuel and struggling to stay airborne. Few believed she would make it and would probably die trying. But Amy believed she could do it - and she did.
On 24 May, a battered, blistered and exhausted Amy flew into Darwin and the history books becoming the first woman to fly solo from England to Australia. Unlike her quiet departure, on her arrival she was met by thousands. The world had fallen in love with the lone girl flyer and she became an instant international celebrity. She was an ordinary girl who had done an extraordinary thing.
What a story! But it doesn’t end there. Without recounting the entire biography, Amy continued to break a number of aviation records in the 1930s, gaining global recognition for her courage, bravery and refusal to conform at a point in history when as a women she was expected to simply marry and have a family. She became the first British female ground engineer, at one point the only one in the world, and worked tirelessly to promote aviation and engineering and the value women could bring to them with her unique, creative and intelligent voice.
Amy Johnson died during the second world war when a plane she was transporting mysteriously crashed into the sea off the shores of Herne Bay, Kent in 1941.
The unexplained circumstances surrounding her death weighed deeply on a nation mourning the loss of one of the world's greatest ever female pilots and an icon of her era. Amy was just 37 years old and her body and the wreckage of the plane were never found.