In 1939, when this Vintage Words of Wisdom title was first published, only 36 years had elapsed since the Wright brothers had made the first flight in a powered aeroplane. Yet in these few years, as Amy Johnson explains, the world had become a smaller place, shrunk by the achievements of pioneer aviators who established air routes connecting cities and peoples across the globe.
Amy Johnson was one of these pioneers of aviation history, achieving remarkable fame for her many record-breaking flights during her short life - she died aged just 37 piloting an aircraft on behalf of the Air Transport Auxiliary in 1941. In May 1930 she became the first woman to fly from Great Britain to Australia and even today her name is recognised although, for many, her achievements are perhaps less familiar. Sky Roads of the World is her autobiography. It provides details of Amy's own flights but is also a rich source of information about the various men, and women, who throughout the 1920s and '30s risked their lives to extend the possibilities of aviation and achieve fame and glory setting records for speed and distance by air. She captures the thrill and anxiety faced by these pilots as they flew, often alone, with few instruments and no ground support. The tales are enhanced by her personal experience and she provides much background colour with her insights into the places and people encountered around the world.
Amy and her fellow women pilots also challenged the expectation of the time that aeroplanes and flying were a man's world. For example, in this book Amy Johnson writes of finding a refreshing attitude in the USA where, 'I was in the land of opportunities, a country where a woman is given a job according to her qualifications and not her sex'. She also highlights the prejudice she often encountered throughout her career despite her success and achievements.
For anyone interested in the growth of civilian aviation between the two World Wars this book provides much detail on emerging routes, airlines, aircraft and the numerous male and female aviators responsible for their development. Amy Johnson flew to and across many countries and writes of aviation in all continents in a manner that evokes much period charm. Amy Johnson is worthy of her place in the history of aviation and among our British heroes. Sky Roads of the World will introduce her to new readers who will gain a better understanding of Amy, the woman and pilot, and also of an early twentieth-century world experiencing considerable social and technological change.