Amy Johnson Visits Warrington 3rd July 1932
Archives Volunteer Carol Mayo shares another in the series of fascinating stories she has uncovered whilst conducting research in Warrington’s Archives:
Following on from the previous blog “Flying Week in Warrington September 1919” I have decided to continue with the theme of flight. This time it is the visit of the famous flyers’ Amy Johnson and her fiancé Jim Mollison on Sunday 3rd July 1932.
They flew from the Barton Aerodrome in Eccles in Jim Mollison’s “silver aeroplane”. In this plane he had broken the record for the flight from England to Cape Town a few weeks earlier. Amy was a record breaker too. She had flown solo from Croydon Airport 5th May 1930 in her Gypsy Moth “Jason” and landed in Darwin Australia on 24th May where she was greeted by a noisy and excited crowd. From here on Amy became a worldwide celebrity. Her achievement captured the public imagination to such a degree that several songs were composed in her honour. The most famous being “Amy Wonderful Amy “. Amy went on to set further long distance flight records during the 1930s. In 1931 she and her co-pilot/mechanic Jack Humphreys flew in record time to Tokyo and Moscow.
The Sunday visit was the highlight of a “Great Air Pageant” held at the flying ground on Chester Road. A Northern Air Transport Limited advertisement for the event captured the spirit of the early flying era with the extra attractions of dare-devil stunt flying, wing walking and all day passenger flights. As their plane drew closer to the flying ground it was met by three planes from Northern Air Transport which escorted them to the ground. On disembarking the couple were greeted by the Mayor Alderman Plinston and a crowd of 5,000 welcomed the couple. They were surrounded by hundreds of eager autograph hunters. There were so many that the couple spent three quarters of an hour signing autographs.
With their recent engagement Amy and Jim had become known as the flying lovers. They were the star attraction of the day. The day’s events started at 3.00pm with a flying formation of three planes followed by an exhibition of stunt flying – Mr Orrell flew up-side down, Mr Harrison walked about the wings as the plane flew and Mr Bonar gave an exhibition of an amateur pilot’s inept jumping and twisted flying. The next performer was the “flying marksman”. Several balloons were tied to a structure and as the pilot flew past at high speed he shot at them with a revolver. To the crowd’s surprise his assistant appeared from behind the structure and revealed how he had assisted with the balloon bursting.
The exhibition was about to come to an unusual end. The couple drove around the ground in an old car and as they progressed they were suddenly bombed with bags of flour from a plane. This was called “bombing the bride”. In the words of the newspapers “the bride was eventually captured and taken aloft”.
Amy Johnson’s achievements as a pioneering aviator were and are still considered to be ground breaking. For the crowd who witnessed her visit to Warrington the 3rd July 1932 would be a day to remember.