Noted aviator of the 1930s, first woman to fly solo from England to Australia in a single engine biplane. Visited Princes Risborough & Wooburn Green.
Link with the Chilterns
Spent some of her life in Princes Risborough and in Wooburn Green
July 1st 1903
January 5th 1941
Amy Johnson was born in Hull, the first of four daughters born to Will and Ciss Johnson.
She learnt to fly with the London Aeroplane Club at Stag Lane in a De Havilland Cirrus Moth, obtaining her pilots licence in 1929, then went on to obtain her aviation ground engineer’s licences for engines and airframes.
Inspired by the thought of flying solo to Australia, Amy set about gaining publicity to raise the money to finance such a trip, leading to an offer from Lord Wakefield to finance 50% of the cost of the aeroplane, provided her father would fund the remaining 50%. She purchased a second hand De Havilland 60 Gipsy Moth, G-AAAH, which was refurbished, repainted and personalised by having the name “Jason” painted on the engine cowlings.
Amy concentrated on learning navigation skills, though until departing for Australia, had never flown further than from London to Hedon (Hull) and had certainly never made a sea crossing.
On 5th May 1930, she took off from Croydon Aerodrome and after an eventful flight via Istanbul, Baghdad, Karachi, Calcutta, Bangkok and Singapore, finally arrived at Port Darwin, Australia, on 24th May.
Amy joined the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA) in 1940, an organisation providing a ferry service for military aeroplanes. She moved to Wooburn Green near Beaconsfield and lodged with friends.
On 5th January 1941, setting off in very poor weather from Squires Gate, Blackpool in an Airspeed Oxford, she headed for Kidlington, near Oxford. The aeroplane never reached its destination, finishing instead somewhere in the Thames Estuary. Amy`s body was never found.
A memorial service was held for her at St Martins in the Fields on 14th January 1941.
Wycombe’s Contribution to Aviation. Book by David Scott and Ian Simmons, published by Wycombe District Council and available from the Information Centres in Princes Risborough, Marlow and High Wycombe
Amy Johnson, Enigma in the Sky. An Official Biography by David Luff, published by The Crowood Press Ltd. 2002
What you can visit
The cottage called “Monks Staithe”, Church St, Princes Risborough, one time home of Amy Johnson, identified by a wall plaque.