This clip chosen to be G
A title card announces the arrival of Amy Johnson in Brisbane after her ‘wonderful flight from England’. As crowds wait for her arrival, and crowds are shown arriving in cars, there is a shot of her plane landing. The crowd quickly gathers around her plane as a petite Amy Johnson – hair cropped under her ears, and wearing a fashionable tie – then walks amongst the crowd, smiling and later waving.
A second title card ‘sighted in the air’ shows Johnston’s plane – a de Havilland Moth – in the sky before cutting to Johnson sitting in the cockpit of the landed plane. A pan of the airfield showing the large crowds precedes the final shot of Johnson and a group of uniformed men posing for the camera.
This clip shows silent, black-and-white footage of Amy Johnson arriving at Eagle Farm in Brisbane, Queensland, in May 1930. It opens with an intertitle, followed by scenes of the awaiting crowds, a motorcade and more people arriving, Johnson’s plane landing and being wheeled to a stop, crowds surrounding the plane and Johnson being welcomed by local dignitaries and waving to the crowd. A second intertitle introduces similar scenes, not spliced in chronological order, of the plane circling, landing and Johnson being escorted from her plane.
Educational value points
- The clip captures a milestone in aviation history when Amy Johnson, a young English woman, arrived in Brisbane via Darwin after a solo flight lasting 19.5 days from England to Australia, covering a distance of about 14,000 km. She won a prize of £10,000 offered by the English Daily Mail newspaper for the first solo flight by a woman from England to Australia.
- The flight made Johnson a celebrity throughout Australia and internationally, prompting Australian newspapers at the time to question whether the popular enthusiasm wasn’t just as astonishing as the flight itself. Thousands of people turned out to greet 'Johnny’, as she was popularly known, at all her engagements during the Australian tour following her arrival in Darwin.
- This footage is possibly one of the earliest examples of celebrity mobbing recorded on an Australian newsreel. Johnson’s arrival was later reported in The Age on 17 June 1930: 'The Brisbane crowds, she said, … were most emotional, and broke all bounds in the fervour of their welcome. Once or twice she was included (sic) to ask for more consideration when individuals pressed her too closely, but seeing their amazing goodness of heart she could not bear to be cross with them’ (150.theage.com.au).
- Neither of the landing sequences in the clip shows the final stages of the actual landing. This was undoubtedly the result of deliberate editing. The Eagle Farm airfield was muddy and Johnson’s Gypsy Moth biplane actually skidded to a crash landing, damaging it extensively.
- Johnson’s exploits gave encouragement to Australian female pilots, a number of whom went on to became commercial pilots in the 1930s. Australian women had begun to take up flying in the mid-1920s. After initial resistance, aero clubs offered memberships to women, but the prohibitive cost of flying meant that it was confined to women able to pay the £25 joining fee and £1 10s per hour of instruction, equivalent to the basic weekly wage.
- The clip shows the flying gear worn by Johnson and all other aviators, male or female, at the time. Soft leather helmets and tight-fitting goggles protected them from wind and dust in the open cockpits. Johnson’s jodhpur trousers were also much favoured by pilots in this period.
- Female pilots of the time, including Johnson, took seriously the advice given by US pilot Harriet Quimby in 1911 that 'if a woman wants to fly, first of all she must … abandon skirts’ (www.skygod.com). The fact that female pilots wore trousers was the reason given by aero clubs in Australia for not admitting women. The media of the day, previously alarmed by women’s appropriation of the outfits worn by male pilots, repeatedly emphasised Johnson’s femininity.
- The clip portrays provides an example of a newsreel item of the period. Young cinematographer George Burne worked with his father, Al Burne, a pioneer movie photographer, to shoot newsreels such as this in Queensland.
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