The flying poster girl’s life in pictures - new Amy Johnson book launched

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Her amazing story of adventure, glamour and tragedy has been told many times before.

But now a new book is using nearly 200 pictures, including many which have never been published, to give a more rounded view of the Hull-born pilot Amy Johnson.

Drawn from a wide range of sources, private and public, from family archives to museums, they show Amy as a child and student, horse-riding and motor-rallying, as well as her celebrity flights across the world - including her solo flight to Australia in 1930, which turned her into a world-wide superstar.

Amy Johnson - A Life in Pictures, which is being launched in Hull on Thursday, comes as part of a festival celebrating the 75th anniversary of her death, which has seen nearly 60 moth sculptures take flight and settle on walls and buildings round the city and beyond.

It’s a little known fact that Johnson - pictured in oil-stained overalls astride a Gipsy Moth - was the first woman in the world to receive a ground engineer’s licence. Her tutor Jack Humphreys remarked: “Most flying men do not know why a machine flies, but Miss Johnson knows all right. That girl will break records.”

Sure enough by May 1930 she was preparing for take-off to Australia. The celebratory images of her departure are followed by one of her looking drained after her worst accident when she crashed in Burma. It is festival director Rick Welton’s favourite picture “She looks so tired, like a little lost girl, yet she had just flown over 5,000 miles when she crash-landed, fortunately at a Government Training Institute. They got a joiner to make new spars and fabric from a World War One parachute to cover the wings.”

Other fascinating pictures document her romance with Jim Mollison, another outstanding pilot of his day, whose own exploits have been overshadowed by their stormy marriage. It didn’t get off to a good start: the bride wore black at Mollison’s behest and Amy’s parents were noticeably absent from the wedding picture, having only been told of the nuptials the night before.

Meanwhile tens of thousands of maps have been handed out to eager moth-hunters out to capture the 59 individually-painted moths which have fluttered onto walls around Hull last month. Visitors, who have been using both the printed trail and a moth collector app, to see the moths - which range from the rhinestone-encrusted Swarovski Crystal Moth to Rosie the Riveter, representing the women who worked in factories and shipyards during World War II, and representing Amy’s “can do” spirit. Sculptor Saffron Waghorn, from Skipsea, who came up with the original prototype and designed three of the moths, including Rosie, said: “We didn’t know how it would take off - and excuse the pun, it really has taken off.”

Several people have already claimed to have bagged all of them, including Geoffrey, which is at the Science Museum, alongside Amy’s original De Havilland Gipsy Moth, and another at Herne Bay, close to where she died in a mysterious accident. Harley Brooks, 11, who was out with his grandmother looking for more than 20 moths in the city centre, said: “They are really good. They represent Hull as a city.”