British aviator who, in 1930, made a celebrated solo flight from Britain to Australia. In recognition of this achievement she was made a CBE.
The daughter of a herring importer from Kingston upon Hull, Amy Johnson attended Sheffield University and received her BA in 1925. While working in London as a secretary she joined the London Aeroplane Club and became the first woman recipient of a ground engineer's licence. Having obtained her pilot's certificate in December 1929, she set out on 5 May of the following year from London bound for Australia in an attempt to break the solo record. Her de Havilland Moth powered by a 90 hp Gipsy engine arrived in Port Darwin on 24 May in spite of several stops for repairs. Although not a record, her achievement was received enthusiastically in Britain and elsewhere. The Daily Mail gave her £10 000 and she became a national heroine. She made further long-distance flights both alone and with her husband, the pilot James Mollison (1905–59), whom she married in 1932. In June 1933 their de Havilland biplane crashed on landing at Bridgeport, Connecticut, after a nonstop flight from Britain and in May 1936 Johnson broke the London to Cape Town solo record. The marriage was dissolved in 1938 and in 1939 Johnson joined the Auxiliary Air Force. The following year her plane disappeared on a flight over the Thames estuary and she was presumed dead.
Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945) — Australasian and Pacific History.