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Shining the spotlight on two trailblazing women in aviation

08 March 2022

Shining the spotlight on two trailblazing women in aviation

To celebrate International Women's Day, we at bring you the stories of two of the most famous female trailblazers in the wonderful world of flying. So, buckle up and prepare to be inspired!

Amelia Earhart

When pilots are asked why they decided to pursue a career in the skies, they often say it was a childhood dream.

However, this was far from the case for the great Amelia Earhart. When the 10-year-old Earhart laid eyes on a plane for the very first time at a state fair, she humorously remarked: "It was a thing of rusty wire and wood and looked not at all interesting".

But this all changed in the winter of 1920, when the legendary aviator, Frank Hawks (dubbed the "fastest airman in the world') took Earhart, now 23, for a flight that would change not only her life, but also the aviation world and wider culture.

Eleven years later, on May 20-21, 1932, Earhart became the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. Setting off from Harbour Grace, Newfoundland, Earhart planned to land in Paris. However, she was met with strong winds, icy conditions and mechanical problems, forcing her to land in Derry, Northern Ireland. Despite not reaching her intended destination, Earhart completed what she had set out to achieve.

Amy Johnson

British aviator Amy Johnson is one of the inspiring female figureheads of the 20th century.

After graduating from the university, Johnson worked in London as a secretary for a solicitor. It was during this time that Johnson became interested in flying, and it was not long before she gained her pilot's licence.

However, what started as a hobby soon became an all-consuming determination to prove that women could be as competent as men in a hitherto male dominated field.

So, in May 1930, Johnson became the first woman to fly alone to Australia - a flight distance of an incredible 11,000 miles. Daringly, Amy had plotted the most direct route – simply by placing a ruler on the map. This took her over some of the world's harshest terrain, requiring her to fly in an open cockpit for up to eight hours at a time.

In 1931 she and co-pilot Jack Humphreys became the first people to fly from London to Moscow in one day. They then continued across Siberia and onto Tokyo, setting a record time from Britain to Japan. She followed this in 1932 with a solo record from London to Cape Town.

To appreciate the scale of her achievement, modern readers must appreciate that Amy had no radio link with the ground, as well as no reliable information about the weather conditions. What's more, until her Australia trip, Johnson's longest solo flight had been from London to Hull.

Johnson's commercial flying career ended at the outbreak of World War Two, but this did not stop Johnson from getting in the cockpit. Indeed, Amy joined the Air Transport Auxiliary and transported RAF aircraft around the country.

Be Inspired

If you'd like to follow in the footsteps of these inspirational women by jumping in the cockpit, look no further than our range of Flying Experiences and start your very own adventures - you can also purchase one of our open Gift Vouchers to redeem towards the experience of your choice.

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