Amy Johnson died #OnThisDay in 1941

Amy Johnson
image credit: By British Government employee [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Aged only twenty seven years, Amy Johnson became a celebrity after her exciting solo flight to Australia in 1930.

When Amy landed at Port Darwin she was described as looking sunburnt and tired but smiling. Wearing khaki shorts and a green sun helmet she was soon flying on to Sidney. From Sidney, Amy flew to Brisbane where she had a mishap on descent as her plane side-slipped, struck a fence and crashed.

Amy’s flight to Australia was only the first of many other record breaking flights she undertook both alone and with her flying partner, Jim Mollison.

And the crash in Brisbane was only one of many reports about Amy to be printed in the newspapers.

On one occasion an admirer pushed through the crowds who’d turned out to greet Amy and stole a kiss from her. Immediately Amy slapped the man’s face and gave him a bloody nose.

Another kiss that achieved notoriety occurred when Amy landed at Achikawa aerodrome in Japan after completing her record breaking flight from London to Tokyo via Moscow and Siberia. She was embraced enthusiastically by General Gaishi Nagaoka the man with reputedly the longest moustache in the world and the newspapers had a field day.

Amy Johnson was born in Hull and her fish-merchant-ship-broking family supported her through university and into her flying career. Amy gained her pilot’s licence in 1929.

Amy was married to Jim Mollinson in 1932 but they divorced after a few years. Amy’s attempts to work in commercial flying didn’t lead to much but on the outbreak of WW2 she signed up for the Air Transport Auxiliary. The work involved flying aircraft for the Royal Air Force from one base to another.

It was on one such flight on January 5th 1941 that Amy crash landed into the Thames Estuary and was killed.

Because of the terrible weather conditions, Amy had been advised against flying that day but had bravely said she’d take the aircraft above the clouds and could manage.

The plane had sufficient fuel for four and three quarter hours flying. It was reported that exactly at that time from her departure Amy was seen bailing out of her plane over the sea.

Her scheduled flight was supposed to have been entirely within Oxfordshire so there was some speculation as to how Amy had ended up so far off course over the Thames estuary.

Attempts were made to rescue Amy to no avail.

In the process a naval officer, Lt – Commander Fletcher, also lost his life in a valiant attempt to save her.

Amy’s body was never found and subsequently there was some speculation that she became caught up in the propellers of the ship that was attempting her rescue.

As a member of the Air Transport Auxiliary with no known grave, Amy Johnson is commemorated by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission on the Air Forces Memorial at Runnymede.

Amy Johnson
image credit: By liz west from Boxborough, MA (Amy Johnson, pilot) [CC BY 2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

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