May 13, 2016
by John Mackie
This Week in History: 1936 – Pioneer British aviatrix Amy Johnson makes a record flight from London to Cape Town
Most people have heard of Amelia Earhart, the American pilot who mysteriously vanished over the Pacific Ocean in 1937 while on a round-the-world flight.
But there was another female pilot who was just as famous in her day — Amy Johnson. And like Earhart, she died in a mysterious crash that continues to spawn conspiracy theories, 75 years after her death.
Contemporary sources say that Johnson was born in Kingston Upon Hull, England on July 1, 1903. But newspaper reports during her lifetime make it seem like she was younger — a May 26, 1930 story said she was 23 (which means she would have been born in 1906), and her obituary on Jan. 6, 1941 said she was 32 (which means she would have been born in 1908).
What is agreed is that she burst onto the front pages when she flew solo from England to Australia in May, 1930.
“A golden-haired English girl of 23 dropped out of sky (in Darwin, Australia) this afternoon, completing an achievement unprecedented in aviation history,” said a story in the May 24, 1930 Vancouver Daily Province.
“Amy Johnson — she prefers to be known as ‘Johnnie’ — had (flown) alone in her tiny Moth plane, flown all the way from England to Australia, a distance of 9,900 miles, boldly facing a thousand perils and winning out in the face of seemingly unbeatable obstacles.” READ MORE