1 July 2016

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.

People walking by the Amy Johnson building - image

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.

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.


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.

Miles Stevenson

Director of Alumni and Donor Relations


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

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.

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.

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