University celebrates pioneering aviator

A sculpture has been unveiled at the University of Sheffield to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the death of pioneering female aviator and Sheffield graduate, Amy Johnson.

The moth sculpture in the Diamond

The moth sculpture was unveiled by Deputy Director of Women in Engineering, Sue Armstrong, Aerospace student, Erin Williams, and Director of Alumni and Donor Relations, Miles Stevenson on Friday (1 July 2016) inside the University’s new Diamond building.

In 1930, Amy was the first woman to fly solo from Britain to Australia in a record-breaking journey that took her 19 days.

She came to Sheffield to study Latin, French and Economics and attended engineering lectures which sparked her interest in aviation. After graduating in 1925, she moved to London and pursued her passion for flying.

Amy flew a De Havilland Gipsy Moth for the journey which has inspired the sculpture design.

We are proud to count Amy as one of our own


The 1.5 metre-wide Australian Tiger moth sculpture was designed by Saffron Waghorn and painted by artist Jo Cruickshanks for the public art project organised by the Amy Johnson Festival, called ‘A Moth for Amy’. The University’s moth sculpture is the only one outside of Hull, Amy’s birthplace.

Sue Armstrong, Deputy Director of Women in Engineering at the University of Sheffield, said: “Amy Johnson’s legendary flight inspired many people across the world and we are proud of her lasting legacy as a pioneering aviator.

Amy Johnson

“We’re honoured that the University of Sheffield has been chosen as a place of significance in Amy’s life and pleased to be able to display the moth in a place of learning for aspiring aviation students.”

Miles Stevenson, Director of Alumni and Donor Relations at the University of Sheffield, said: “Amy was a pioneer and her achievements are an inspiration to all here at Sheffield. In an era when boundaries were numerous she showed these could be challenged and broken, a view everyone at Sheffield continues to uphold.

“We are proud to count Amy as one of our own, and are delighted to be able to join in the celebrations of her life.”

Amy is currently commemorated at the University with the Amy Johnson Building, the home of the Department of Automatic Control and Systems Engineering, and through a series of scholarships which aim to encourage women into engineering.

The moth will be on display in the University’s new £81m Diamond building which opened to students in September 2016.

Additional Information

Details of the Amy Johnson Scholarships:

Women in Engineering

The initiative involves staff across Engineering at Sheffield, working together with the aim of becoming the number one choice for women to come to work and study engineering here at the University of Sheffield. More information:

The University of Sheffield

With almost 27,000 of the brightest students from over 140 countries, learning alongside over 1,200 of the best academics from across the globe, the University of Sheffield is one of the world’s leading universities.
A member of the UK’s prestigious Russell Group of leading research-led institutions, Sheffield offers world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines.
Unified by the power of discovery and understanding, staff and students at the university are committed to finding new ways to transform the world we live in.
Sheffield is the only university to feature in The Sunday Times 100 Best Not-For-Profit Organisations to Work For 2016 and was voted number one university in the UK for Student Satisfaction by Times Higher Education in 2014. In the last decade it has won four Queen’s Anniversary Prizes in recognition of the outstanding contribution to the United Kingdom’s intellectual, economic, cultural and social life.
Sheffield has five Nobel Prize winners among former staff and students and its alumni go on to hold positions of great responsibility and influence all over the world, making significant contributions in their chosen fields.
Global research partners and clients include Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Unilever, AstraZeneca, Glaxo SmithKline, Siemens and Airbus, as well as many UK and overseas government agencies and charitable foundations.


For further information please contact:

Kirsty Bowen
Media Relations Officer
0114 222 1034