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James Allan ("Jim") Mollison (19 April 1905 - 30 October 1959) was a famous Scottishmarker pioneer aviator who set many records during the rapid development of aviation in the 1930s.

Early years

Born on 19 April 1905 in Glasgowmarker, Scotlandmarker Mollison was attracted at an early age to flying. Obtaining his Royal Air Force (RAF) Short Commission at 18, he was the youngest officer in the service, and upon completion of training, was posted to Waziristan.

Aviation career

At the age of 22, Mollison became a flying instructor at Central Flying School (CFS), again setting the record for being the youngest in this role. Shortly after, he transferred to the RAF Reserve and devoted his time to civil aviation. In 1928-29, he served as an instructor with the South Australian Aero Club in Adelaide, leaving that position to become a pilot with Eyre Peninsular Airways and Australian National Airways.

Gaining an unenviable reputation as a playboy and dilettante, Mollison was a skilled pilot who took to record breaking as a means of "making his name." In July-August 1931, Mollison set a record time of eight days, 19 hours for a flight from Australia to England, and in March 1932, a record for flying from England to South Africa in four days, 17 hours.

Mollison had flown commercially for Charles Kingsford Smith's ill-fated Australian National Airways. During one of his commercial flights, he met the equally famous aviatrix Amy Johnson, whom he proposed to only eight hours after meeting her, and while still in the air. Johnson accepted; they married on July 1932, and she went off to break her husband's England to South Africa record. They were dubbed The Flying Sweethearts by the press and public.

Mollison continued his record-breaking attempts and on 18 August 1932 was the first pilot to perform an East-to-West solo trans-Atlanticmarker flight from Portmarnockmarker, Dublinmarker, Irelandmarker to Pennfieldmarker, New Brunswickmarker, Canadamarker.In February 1933 Mollison flew from England to Brazilmarker in three days 13 hours, using Africa as a stop-over continent, a record time and the first solo crossing. By then, he and his wife began to plan a record breaking flight across the world. On 22 July 1933, they took off from Walesmarker, but their plane could not make it to Connecticutmarker in the United Statesmarker, crashing before landing there. He and his wife were injured, and the plane broken apart by souvenir seekers.

In October 1934 the Mollisons took part together in MacRobertson Air Race. Their de Havilland DH.88 Comet Black Magic led the competitors off the line and was leading at Baghdadmarker, but they were forced to retire at Allahabadmarker after being forced to use non-aviation fuel which damaged their engines.

The Mollisons' marriage became strained; they were rivals for the same aviation records and Mollison was a heavy drinker. They were divorced in 1938. She resumed her maiden name.

Second World War

Both Amy Johnson and Mollison eventually served in the ATA Air Transport Auxiliary in the Second World War. Johnson was killed while ferrying an aircraft in 1941. A notable incident occurred when Mollison flew as a co-pilot with Diana Barnato Walker. Their Anson was intercepted and shot up by Luftwaffe fighters. Although the aircraft was hit, the 12 passengers and crew were unhurt. On landing, Jim's only concern was "how to get a cup of tea!"

The 1942 movie "They Flew Alone" (titled "Wings and the Woman" in the United States), was the story of Amy Johnson's life and dealt at some length with her marriage.

Postwar

Mollison later settled in Londonmarker and ran a public house. He married Maria Clasina Kamphis on 26 September 1949 at the Maidenhead Register Office. His drinking was a problem and in 1953, the Civil Aviation Authority Medical Board revoked his flying license. The couple separated but Maria bought the Carisbrooke Hotel in Surbiton for him - a temperance hotel. He died on 30 October 1959. Mollison Avenue, Mollison Way and Mollison Drive in Enfield, Croydon and Edgware are named after him.

References

Notes
  1. Aitken 1991, p. 343.
  2. Diana Barnato Walker
Bibliography


  • Aitken, Kenneth. "James Allan Mollison (The Speed Seekers)." Aeroplane Monthly, Vol. 19, No. 6, Issue no. 218, June 1991.
  • Moolman, Valerie. Women Aloft (The Epic of Flight). Alexandria, Virginia: Time-Life Books, 1981. ISBN 0-8094-3287-0.
  • Nesbitt, Roy. "What did Happen to Amy Johnson?" Aeroplane Monthly (Part 1) Vol. 16, no. 1, January 1988, (Part 2) Vol. 16, no. 2, February 1988.


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