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Original Art, Other

Amy Johnson, Aviator


Amy Johnson by Helmar Brewing

The art will be used soon in a series on aviators that I am working on. I know that it would be more appropriate to write about Amy Johnson’s highly successful flying career but, let’s face it, people want to know about terrible crashes. Here it is, from Wikipedia:

On 5 January 1941, while flying an Airspeed Oxford for the ATA from Prestwick via Blackpool to RAF Kidlington near Oxford, Johnson 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.

The crew of HMS Haslemere[Note 3] spotted Johnson’s parachute coming down and saw her alive in the water, calling for help. Conditions were poor – there was a heavy sea and a strong tide, snow was falling and it was intensely cold.[16] Lt Cmdr Walter Fletcher, the commander of Haslemere, dived into the water in an attempt to rescue Johnson.[16] Fletcher failed in the attempt. As a result of the intense cold he died in hospital days later. In 2016, Alec Gill, a historian, claimed that the son of a crew member stated that Johnson had died because she was sucked into the blades of the ship’s propellers; the crewman did not observe this to occur, but believes it is true.[17] This claim has not been verified, as Johnson’s body was never recovered.

A memorial service was held for Johnson in the church of St Martin-in-the-Fields on 14 January 1941. Walter Fletcher was posthumously awarded the Albert Medal in May 1941.[16]

As a member of the ATA with no known grave, she is (under the name Amy V. Johnson) commemorated by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission on the Air Forces Memorial at Runnymede.[18]

Disputed circumstances

Johnson had been one of the original subscribers to the share offer for Airspeed.[19] It has been more recently hinted her death was due to friendly fire. In 1999, it was reported that Tom Mitchell, from Crowborough, Sussex, claimed to have shot Johnson’s aircraft down when she twice failed to give the correct identification code during the flight. Mitchell explained how the aircraft was sighted and contacted by radio. A request was made for the signal. She gave the wrong one twice. “Sixteen rounds of shells were fired and the plane dived into the Thames Estuary. We all thought it was an enemy plane until the next day when we read the papers and discovered it was Amy. The officers told us never to tell anyone what happened.”[20]

About Charles

This blog is about vintage and hand-made baseball cards, art, brewing and cigars, history and anything interesting that I think should be passed along. Come often, you are welcome!

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