Welcome, welcome one and all to another instalment of 'Blog Post Monday'.
Now, I found an interesting little piece recently which has a connection to a very talented and courageous Woman, who just so happens to have a rather fascinating and mysterious story. I know how much you all like a bit of a mystery so to that end, I thought I'd share this one with you.
So, as always, get that kettle on, fasten your seat belts and follow the in-flight safety demonstration as we travel back to the 1930's and fly non-stop from London to Australia...
So, I stumbled across this little find recently (pictured above). It's a tiny little enamelled pin badge souvenir to mark the incredible achievement of Amy Johnson who, in 1930, became the first person to fly non-stop from England to Australia. Flying G-AAAH Jason, Amy left Croydon Airport, Surrey, on 5 May and landed at Darwin, Northern Territory, on 24 May, flying a total of 11,000 miles (18,000 km).
Amy was a Yorkshire lass, born in Kingston upon Hull, in 1903. She went to Boulevard Municipal Secondary School (later Kingston High School) and then to the University of Sheffield, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics.
She was introduced to flying as a hobby, gaining an aviator's certificate and a pilot's "A" Licence, both at the London Aeroplane Club. In that same year, she became the first British woman to obtain a ground engineer's "C" licence.
Image: Amy Johnson - courtesy of The Age newspaper
Amy's father, who was always one of her strongest supporters, helped her with funds to purchase her first aircraft, a secondhandde Haviland DH.60 Gipsy Moth G-AAAH and she decided to name it Jason, after her father's business trade mark.
Image: Amy's Plane - courtesy of John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland.
Amy received the Harmon Trophy as well as a CBE in George V's 1930 Birthday Honours in recognition of her achievement, and was also honoured with the No. 1 civil pilot's licence under Australia's 1921 Air Navigation Regulations.
In September 1934, she became the youngest President of the Women's Engineering Society. And, on 4 May 1936, she made her last record-breaking flight, starting from Gravesend Airport & regaining her Britain to South Africa record in G-ADZO, a Percival Gull Six.
During the Second World War, she joined the Air Transport Auxiliary, which transported Royal Air Force aircraft around the country, during which time she rose to First Officer.
Image: Amy Johnson - from Foreword by E. Royston Pike (1938) Our Generation
However, on 5 January 1941, while flying from Prestwick via RAF Squires Gate to RAF Kidlington, Amy went off course in adverse weather conditions. Out of fuel, she bailed out as her aircraft crashed into the Thames Estuary.
Vessels in the Estuary at the time spotted her parachute coming down and saw her alive in the water, calling for help. HMS Haslemere attempted a rescue, throwing ropes out to her but she was unable to reach them and was lost under the ship. Amy was never found.
Image: Amy Johnson and Jim Mollison - by 0riginal employee of British government - Transferred from RAF Museum
It didn't end there, however. In 1999, there were reports that Amy's death may have been caused by friendly fire. It was claimed her aircraft was shot down when she twice failed to give the correct identification code during the flight. Sixteen rounds of shells were fired and the plane dived into the Thames Estuary. Whilst this was reported to authorities at the time, it is alleged they were told never to speak of it again.
Amy Johnson is commemorated on the Air Forces Memorial at Runnymede.
I think this little souvenir pin badge is a rather special piece to have found. A little memory of one of Amy's many achievements during her life. An amazing woman with a talent for flying and the strength, courage and determination to push boundaries, and succeed! This particular example, with the blue enamel, is a rare survivor, the first produced to celebrate her success.
As always, let me know what you think in the comments section below. It's always an honour to hear from you.
Meanwhile, this piece of history is available to buy here
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