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The most famous aviator in Britain was the first woman to fly solo from England to Australia. She held several speed records and served in the Royal Air Force.
Amy Johnson was England’s wonder airwoman. On 5th May 1930, she took off from Croydon (near London) to fly solo to Australia. 19 days later she landed in Darwin, having covered a distance of 11,000 miles (17,700 km). Johnson was awarded a C.B.E. (Commander of the British Empire) for this historic achievement. In July 1931, the aviatrix became the first pilot to fly from London to Moscow in one day, flying the 1,760 miles (2,832 km) in a record-breaking 21 hours.
Amy Johnson graduated in economics from the University of Sheffield. During her time at university she also attended engineering lectures, being the first woman to do so. The lecturer at the time did not agree, but she insisted, paving the way for women in engineering.
In 1932, Amy Johnson broke the record then held by her husband, Jim Mollison, for a solo flight from England to Cape Town (South Africa), in just 4 days, 6 hours and 54 minutes, timed by her Longines watch. She was 10½ hours faster than her husband. In May 1936, she broke the existing record of Flight Lieutenant Tommy Rose in a solo flight from England to Cape Town.
In the Second World War Amy Johnson served as First Officer, transporting Royal Air Force aircraft around the country. She died during a ferry flight in adverse weather conditions on 5th January 1941 over the Thames Estuary near Herne Bay. It is supposed that her airplane had been hit by friendly fire.
Amy Johnson, wearing a Longines pilot’s watch with inner rotating disc, 1937.