Netflights recently discovered a startling fact: less than 5% of airports named after people are named after women. That’s just 16 out of a total of 360 people. And that’s not all. Of these 16 airports, only three are named after women in aviation.
This isn’t right. As we’ve shown before, women have consistently “blazed a contrail” since the early days of aviation and deserve greater recognition for their contributions, not least by airports.
We want to help. To address this gender imbalance, we’d like more airports to adopt eponyms after women – especially ones from the field of aviation. To kickstart this initiative, we’re launching a petition to encourage Leeds Bradford Airport to rename itself as Amy Johnson Leeds Bradford Airport, in honour of the famous local British aviator, who was born in Hull.
So, why Leeds Bradford? Well, there’s the Yorkshire connection. And, secondly, the timing is right. Not only has the airport recently revealed its updated plans for a brand new terminal, it’s aiming to complete the work by 2023 – the 120th anniversary of Amy’s birth.
“There is still prejudice to be overcome, but it is being rapidly realised that a good pilot is a good pilot, whether man or woman.”
– Amy Johnson, Sky Roads of the World (1939)
Amy Johnson was one of the 20th century’s great early female aviators. She was a true pioneer who, along with the likes of Raymonde de Laroche, Bessie Coleman and Amelia Earhart, helped to break down barriers that held women back from progressing as pilots and citizens. To this day, she remains perhaps the most famous woman in British aviation history, whose record-breaking exploits in the Thirties made her a legend in her own lifetime.
She became the first woman to fly solo from London to Darwin in 1930 – less than a year after she had obtained her pilot’s license – and set a new speed record for a solo flight from London to Cape Town in 1932. Enchanted by her tremendous achievements in the air, the British press nicknamed her the ‘Queen of the Sky’.
Tragically, in 1941, her life was cut short. On a routine mission for the Air Transport Auxiliary – an organisation set up during the Second World War to transport warplanes for the RAF – Amy’s plane encountered some difficulties, eventually crashing into the waters of the Thames Estuary. Her body was never recovered. She was 37. But her legacy lives on.
The fact that only 4.3% of the world’s 352 eponymous airports are named exclusively after women is shocking. It’s a huge gap, and one that has been long ignored. Not anymore. We believe that Leeds Bradford Airport has an opportunity to be a catalyst for real change, and spearhead a new global initiative that sees more women being recognised by airports all over the world.
Now is the time to act. We’ve set up a petition on change.org.
Show your support for our #fairports campaign and sign the petition today.