Engineer of the Week, No.1.
In the first of the amazing women we will be comemorating during the WES Centenary Year, here is "Our Amy", who was lost on this day in 1941.
Amy Johnson CBE, BA, ARAeSoc, HonFSE (Mrs J. A. Mollison) (1 July 1903 – 5 January 1941)
Probably the best known of all the presidents of the Women’s Engineering Society, both at the time and also long after her untimely death, Amy Johnson was born in 1903 in Yorkshire into a prosperous fish merchant’s family. Her father, John William Johnson, was a devoted supporter of his daughter’s aviation exploits, including financially. She went to an ordinary municipal secondary school in Hull and then graduated in economics from the University of Sheffield. Johnson stood out from the crowd during her school days, and continued to do so when gaining a degree in Economics from Sheffield University. Johnson discovered her passion for flying at London Aeroplane Club, Stag Lane Aerodrome achieving her full pilot’s licence and the Air Ministry’s ground-engineer’s licence in 1929, being the first woman to get the latter. 1930 was remarkable for her record-breaking solo flight from England to Australia, and in 1931 the Society of Engineers presented her with the President 's Gold Medal for her paper on "The Attention that I gave to Jason's engine during my flight ," which was described as ''a classic in Engineering”. In 1932 she married Scottish pilot Jim Mollison, who had proposed to her during a flight together some eight hours after they had first met. They made a number of high profile flights together before their divorce in 1938. In 1940, like many other women pilots who were WES members, Johnson joined the newly formed Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA), and rose to First Officer, but on 5th January 1941, while flying an Airspeed Oxford for the ATA from Prestwick via Blackpool to RAF Kidlington near Oxford, she went off course in adverse weather conditions. Reportedly out of fuel, she bailed out as her aircraft crashed into the Thames Estuary near Herne Bay and died.
Amy joined the Women’s Engineering Society in 1930 and was immediately being frequently featured in The Woman Engineer every year until her death. In 1932, having set up the society’s Aeronautical Section, which was to be the forerunner of the British Women Pilots’ Association, Amy became one of the society’s vice presidents from 1934-37 was president for an exceptional three years, during which time she was included (with Verena Holmes) in the Jubilee Pageant painting – an enormous panorama of the most significant people and events of the age, for the Ideal Homes Exhibition. Her death was a great loss to the Society which held a big memorial service at St Martins in the Fields, London, raised funds for a scholarship fund for women to train in aeronautics and for a bronze bust which was gifted to the city of Hull and is in their Streetlife Museum.