East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Why not keep going?

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amy-johnsonDo they still have aviation races?

OK, let’s start from the beginning.

Amy Johnson was one of those women that always fascinated me – as a person, and as a representative of a category, a group of people.
Amy Johnson was an aviatrix.
Now, maybe today the  term is exist and politically incorrect, but I live at the borders of the Empire, so I can shrug it off – Amy Johnson was a pilot, a flyer, and yes, an aviatrix.
She took to the sky escaping a career as a solicitor in London.

Johnson was the first woman to fly solo from Britain to Australia, in 1930, flying a Gypsy Moth she called “Jason”.


And European readers can even get a snippet of Amy Johnson’s voice, relating her adventure – here.

The next year, flying with a co-pilot on a different plane, she shattered records flying from London to Tokyo.

English: Postcard of Amy Johnson, female pilot

English: Postcard of Amy Johnson, female pilot (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Those were the heroic days of aviation, and Amy Johnson was the stuff of legends.
It was a time of air races – competitions in which the latest technology (airctraft) was put to the test in a spectacular, and spectacularized way.

Hence my question: Do they still do it? Do they still race planes?
Or have we become so blasé that we are no longer thrilled by air adventures?

British film star Anna Neagle played Johnson part in a movie about her life and her marriage – her husband proposed to her while they were flying together on the same plane, eight hours after he met her (I can understand him).
That was just perfect for a movie, right?

Serving in the ATA during the Second World War, Johnson was lost at sea after a plane she was ferrying crashed, possibly a victim to friendly fire – she bailed out and her body was never found.

I discovered Amy Johnson because of singer/songwriter Al Stewart, who wrote a song about her, called Flying Sorcery (I played it here on Karavansara yesterday).
All the pieces fall together.


Now for the recent news – yesterday, Tracey Curtis-Taylor landed in Darwin after three months spent on a biplane, flying on the same route Amy Johnson had covered in 1930.

Curtis-Taylor, who is – guess what – an aviatrix, flew a 1942 Boeing Stearman called Spirit of Artemis.
The Guardian gave a nice report of Curtis-Taylor’s adventure, and I like very much the pilot’s closing remark…

“Why not keep going? Life should be about big projects”

Well, that’s the idea.
It’s great to know there are still adventurers out there, and they are having the time of their lives.

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

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