Location: Herne Bay, South East England
Artist: Stephen Melton
Amy Johnson, was born 1 July 1903. She was a pioneering English Pilot who became the first woman to fly solo from England to Australia. In Hull, Yorkshire is where she lived until she went to Sheffield University, in 1923 to complete a BA in Economics. Following graduation, she moved to London, working as a secretary to a solicitor where she also became interested in flying. Her flying career began at the London Aeroplane Club in the winter of 1928-29 and her hobby soon became an all-consuming determination to prove that women could be as competent as men in a hitherto male dominated field.
Her first important achievement, after flying solo, was to qualify as the first British-trained woman ground engineer, the only woman in the world to do so at that time.
Early in 1930, she set her objective to fly solo to Australia and to beat Bert Hinkler's record of 16 days. At first, her efforts to raise financial support failed, but eventually her father and oil magnate Lord Wakefield shared the £600 purchase price of a used DH Gypsy Moth (G-AAAH), which was named “Jason” after the family business trademark.
Amy set off alone from Croydon on 5 May 1930, and landed in Darwin on 24 May, a flight distance of 11,000 miles. She was the first woman to fly alone to Australia, and came home to the UK to a hero’s welcome which culminated in her award of a C.B.E.
In July 1931, she set an England to Japan record in a Puss Moth with Jack Humphreys, followed in July 1932 with a solo flight from England to Cape Town. In May 1936, she set a record from England to Cape Town, solo, in a Percival Gull, a flight to retrieve her 1932 record.
She married Scottish Aviator, Jim Mollison, in 1932, with whom she flew in a DH Dragon non-stop from South Wales to the United States in 1933. Competing in the England to Australia air race, they flew non-stop in record time to India in 1934 in a DH Comet. The couple were divorced in 1938.
After her commercial flying ended with the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, Amy joined the Air Transport Auxiliary, a pool of experienced pilots who were ineligible for RAF service. Her flying duties consisted of ferrying aircraft from factory airstrips to RAF bases.
It was on one of these routine flights on 5 January 1941, that Amy crashed into the Thames estuary and was drowned; her body was never recovered.
She was the first person from the Air Transport Auxiliary to be killed in active service.A memorial service for Amy was held at the St Martins in the Fields church in Trafalgar Square on 14 January 1941.
"I believe I can do anything, if i decide I want to be a doctor tomorrow, I am going to be a doctor." - Amy Johnston
A life-sized bronze statue of Amy was commissioned by the Amy Johnson Project to mark the 75th anniversary of her tragic death. It was created by Ramsgate artist Stephen Melton and unveiled at Herne Bay on 17 September 2016.
The statue honours Amy at the age of 37, dressed in early 1930s flying clothes, striding forward, adjusting her googles and looking to the skies. It also includes quotes by Amy who expressed herself with intelligent creativity. The statue stands as a monument to women, aviation, engineering and all those who served with the Air Transport Auxiliary during the Second World War. The artist wanted to create a permanent landmark to inspire and educate.