Amy Johnson was born in 1903 in Kingston Upon Hull. Her father owned a fish processing factory. She graduated in Economics then worked as a secretary at a London solicitors.
While in London she took pilot lessons as a hobby and gained her pilots licence in 1929. She also became the first women to qualify as a ground engineer.
Just one year later in 1930 she flew solo from Britain to Australia in a Gipsy Moth. A journey of 11,000 miles! She became the first woman in history to do so. She set off from Croydon Aerodrome in South London on the 5th of May and landed in Darwin on the 24th. This made her into a huge celebrity of the era and she was awarded the CBE.
To get home she travelled by boat to Egypt. She was then flown back from there to Croydon. She was taken through London in anm open top car and over 1 million people lined the procession route!
Many more aviation challenges followed including setting a record fast time for a journey from Britain to Japan, with her flying partner on the trip, Jack Humphreys.
In 1940 she joined the newly formed Air Transport Auxillary (ATA). The aim of this branch of the RAF was to ferry aircraft around the country from various air bases. This was an essential role to keep the RAF fighting to maximum efficency. It was mostly made up of female pilots and older male pilots.
On the 5th January, 1941 Amy Johnson set off from Blackpool in an Airspeed Oxford. This plane was a training aeroplane for aircrews learning navigation, radio-operating, bombing and gunnery. She was making her way to RAF Kidlington in Oxfordshire.
Weather conditions were very poor and after flying off course it is believed the fuel for the plane ran out. She bailed out and landed in the River Thames.
She was spotted struggling in the water and a rescue attempt was made, resulting in the death of Lt Cmdr Walter Fletcher of HMS Haslemere. The rescue failed and her body was never found.