On this day we remember two women aviators who ‘died’ on 5th of January.
5th of January 1939 Amelia Earhart was declared dead after her plane disappeared over the Pacific Ocean in her attempt in 1937 to circumnavigate the globe.
5th of January 1941 Amy Johnson is killed whilst flying for the Air Transport Auxiliary.
Amelia Earhart was born on 24th of July 1897 in Atchison, Kasas Texas. From the start she was to defy the conventions of her day and pursue her love of flying.
During WW1 she left her pleasant Philadephia finishing school to work as a nursing auxiliary in a military hospital in Canada.
On January 3rd 1921 she had her first flying lesson and 6 months after that she had bought her own plane.
She achieved many firsts in flying and regularly broke records.
When her plane disappeared records continued to be broken as the search became the most extensive air and sea search in naval history.
On July 19th, after spending $4 million and scouring 250,000 square miles of ocean, the United States government reluctantly called off the operation. In 1938, a lighthouse was constructed on Howland Island in her memory, and across the United States, streets, schools, and airports are named after Earhart. Her birthplace, Atchison, Kansas, became a virtual shrine to her memory. Amelia Earhart awards and scholarships are given out every year. Amelia Earhart
To find out more click on this link which includes an extensive amount of information, images and film footage: Ameila Earhart
And the mystery continues:
Amy Johnson was born on 1st of July 1903 in Kingston upon Hull in the East Riding of Yorkshire, England.
Amy Johnson went to Sheffield University but left for London to take up a job as a typist in a solicitors office. She soon became captivated by flying when she visited an aerodrome.
In 1929 she gained her pilot’s licence having previously qualified as a ground engineer and with her father’s help, taken flying lessons.
In 1930 she was the first woman to fly solo from England to Australia and broke many records throughout her flying career.
In 1940 she joined the Air Transport Auxiliary where pilots flew planes from factories and around the country to get them to the places the Air Force wanted them to be.
On Sunday 5 January 1941 she left Blackpool in an Airspeed Oxford, which she had been ordered to deliver to RAF Kidlington, near Oxford.
At about 3.30pm a convoy of ships was approaching Knock John Buoy on Tizard Bank, off Herne Bay when a seaman spotted an aeroplane and then a parachute floating down through the snow. Several sailors then reported seeing two bodies in the water. One was described as fresh-faced and wearing a helmet. This figure called out for help in a high-pitched voice as it drifted dangerously close to the ship’s propellers.
Once it became clear that there was no hope of saving the helmeted pilot Lieutenant Commander Walter Fletcher, captain of the HMS Haslemere, dived into the icy water to try to save what he took to be a passenger. He was seen to reach the spot and rest beside a floating object, before attempting to return to the ship. He was rescued from the water, but died later from exposure and shock at the Royal Naval Hospital at Gillingham and is buried in Woodlands Cemetery. Neither the so-called “second body”, nor Amy’s body were ever recovered. Parts of her plane and some of her possessions, including a travelling bag, a cheque book and her logbook, later washed up nearby. Amy Johnson – A Brief Biography
To find out more click on the link which contains lots of information and educational resources to : Amy Johnson Arts Trust
Two women who defied the conventions of their day and continue to inspire us to this day with their courage and passion.
Reporter: Fiona Grahame