Amy Johnson CBE, (1 July 1903 – 5 January 1941) was a pioneering English aviatrix. Flying solo or with her husband, Jim Mollison, Johnson set numerous long-distance records during the 1930s. Johnson flew in the Second World War as a part of the Air Transport Auxiliary where she died during a ferry flight.
Her father, always one of her strongest supporters, offered to help her buy an aircraft. With funds from her father and Lord Wakefield she purchased G-AAAH, a second-hand de Havilland Gipsy Moth she named “Jason”, not after the voyager of Greek legend, but after her father’s trade mark.
Johnson achieved worldwide recognition when, in 1930, she became the first woman to fly solo from England to Australia. Flying her “Jason” Gipsy Moth, she left Croydon, south of London, on 5 May of that year and landed in Darwin, Northern Territory on 24 May after flying 11,000 miles (18,000 km). Her aircraft for this flight can still be seen in the Science Museum in London. She received the Harmon Trophy as well as a CBE in recognition of this achievement, and was also honoured with the No. 1 civil pilot’s licence under Australia’s 1921 Air Navigation Regulations.
In July 1931, Johnson and her co-pilot Jack Humphreys, became the first pilots to fly from London to Moscow in one day, completing the 1,760 miles (2,830 km) journey in approximately 21 hours. From there, they continued across Siberia and on to Tokyo, setting a record time for flying from Britain to Japan. The flight was completed in a de Havilland Puss Moth.
In 1932, Johnson married famous Scottish pilot Jim Mollison, who had, during a flight together, proposed to her only eight hours after they had met.
In July 1932, Johnson set a solo record for the flight from London to Cape Town, South Africa in a Puss Moth, breaking her new husband’s record. Her next flights were as a duo, flying with Mollison, she flew G-ACCV “Seafarer,” a de Havilland Dragon Rapide nonstop from Pendine Sands, South Wales, to the United States in 1933. However, their aircraft ran out of fuel and crash-landed in Bridgeport, Connecticut; both were injured. After recuperating, the pair were feted by New York society and received a ticker tape parade down Wall Street.
The Mollisons also flew in record time from Britain to India in 1934 in a de Havilland DH.88 Comet as part of the Britain to Australia MacRobertson Air Race. They were forced to retire from the race at Allahabad because of engine trouble.
In May 1936, Johnson made her last record-breaking flight, regaining her Britain to South Africa record in G-ADZO, a Percival Gull Six.