Amy Johnson letters



Admin History:

Amy Johnson was born in Hull on 1 July 1903. Her family were of Danish descent and were established fish merchants; Andrew Johnson, Knudtzon & Co. In 1925 she completed her BA Degree in Economics at Sheffield University and returned to Hull to take a secretarial course.

In 1926 she had her first experience of flying on a five shilling pleasure trip. The following year she moved down to London to pursue a career in advertising. In 1928 she began taking flying lessons and within two years was not only a qualified pilot but had also become the first women to qualify as a ground engineer.

In May 1930 Amy made a solo flight to Australia in a Gypsy Moth D.H.60 G-AAAH which she named Jason (the trademark of the Johnson family fish business). Although she failed to break Bert Hinkler's record, she was the first women to complete the 11,000 mile trip, and as a result she was given considerable press coverage and received telegrams of congratulation from across the world including King George V and Queen Mary and the British Prime Minster Ramsay MacDonald.

When she returned to England she was presented with a CBE and in August 1930 the Daily Mail newspaper gave her a gift of £10,000 for her achievements, she was also given a civic reception at the Guildhall in Hull. Further record flights followed including London to Moscow with co-pilot Jack Humpreys in January 1931 and then Moscow to Tokyo.

In 1932 she met and married the Scottish aviator Jim Mollison and in December she broke his record for a solo flight from England to South Africa. In July 1933 the couple attempted a non-stop flight from England to New York via Canada. Their plane ran-out of fuel just 50 miles from their destination and they both received minor injuries when the plane crashed. Despite this they were given a ticker-tape parade through New York.

In 1934 Amy and her husband made a record flight to Karachi in India as part of the Australia MacRobertson Air Race, but they had to withdraw from the full race. In 1936 Amy regained her record for a flight between London and Cape Town and the record for the fastest return flight.

In May 1940, Amy joined the women's section of the Air Transport Auxiliary flying both machines and men to wherever they were needed. On 5 January 1941 on a routine flight from Blackpool to RAF Kidlington (near Oxford) she went off course due to the poor weather. She bailed out into the Thames estuary and was seen alive but the rescue attempt failed and her body was never recovered. She was officially presumed dead in December 1943.

In 1932, Amy used a gift of a purse of gold sovereigns presented to her by the children of Sydney to purchase a gold cup for the City of Hull; The Amy Johnson Cup for Courage. This trophy is awarded to a Hull child (aged under 17) for an outstanding deed of courage. In July 1974 a memorial statue was erected to her honour in Prospect Street, Hull. In 2003 the Royal Mail issued commemorative stamps to mark the centenary of her birth.


These letters chart Amy’s life through six years which includes when she began flying lessons. In one, dated April 1928 to her partner Hans Arregger, she states 'now for the good news - I'm joining the London Aeroplane Club and then I can get tuition and always use their aeroplanes'.

The majority of the letters are from Amy to her partner Hans Arregger but the collection does also include letters to Amy from her father at Andrew Johnson Knudtzon Ltd, and Mr Johnson from Vernon Wood of William Charles Crocker and Company of London offering her a job in the typing pool at three pounds per week. Mr Johnson states that when Amy has acquired the relevant legal 'atmosphere', she would be found a job which was 'more congenial employment'.

Each letter can be viewed on the History Centre's web site by following the link from our page relating to Amy Johnson at:

The letters are also available to consult on microfilm rolls 185 & 186 at the History Centre. Please book a microfilm ahead of your visit.