25-year-old Amy writes home from London to her sister Irene in Hull
2nd October 1928
I’m just back from flying! A lesson, of course, but my sixth now and they get better every time. I had Captain Baker today. He’s my favourite instructor. I’m not keen on awful Captain Matthews. Just because my first lesson was a disaster – he shouldn’t hold it against me. I think it says more about his teaching than my flying. How was I supposed to control the thing my first time? I’m much better now. Landings are more difficult than I took them for but I’ll get there. How hard can it be? Men manage it all the time and they’re known for being reckless. Besides, what’s a few bumps on the way down? I’m quite the novelty at the airfield, a female pilot. Some of the men look at me crossly, as if to say “look at her! Who does she think she is?” I just smile and think quietly, “I’ll show them. A woman can do anything you can do just as well – if not better!”
I’m going to get this over with now. There’s something I have been keeping secret. After Hans and I agreed to just be friends, we began to drift. Natural, I suppose. What reason to go on as we have all these years if nothing is to come of it? Quite out of blue, he wrote and asked if he might come and see me in London. It was the most brilliant summer’s evening when he picked me up from Maida Vale. Seeing him again, everything came flooding back. Every feeling I thought I’d buried, every fruitless hope I ever had. We were always doomed to failure, weren’t we? We defied convention for a long time in not marrying. The funny thing is, I always thought I wanted marriage and he didn’t. But it turns out I am quite happy on my own and Hans… well, he’s married. To that girl he started seeing in Hull whilst we were still together, if we ever were. I must have looked a fright when Winnie answered the door. After that night I thought I’d never cry another tear. I don’t think I truly understood heartbreak until that moment. The next morning, I got up, washed my face and went to work. I carried on. I won’t let him break me, Reeny. However hard, I will be alright.
Flying has helped. A distraction, but more than that. I have finally found something that feels like it’s mine, all mine. I had to wait so long – as with everything, it seems. It wasn’t until September my lessons finally came through. I don’t think I’ve ever waited so impatiently for anything! I would run down to the postbox every morning. It was only when I’d given up hope completely that the letter finally came so now I am determined not to waste another moment. I’m hoping father might tide me through with a bit of money. I’m rather short again. Don’t worry – it’s nothing like before, all that silly business with debt – I’ve been spending every penny on coming up to fly so things are a bit tight. But I’ll find a way to keep afloat – I always do, don’t I? I seem to have quite a skill for bouncing back whatever life throws at me. Sometimes I think that’s the only thing that’s kept me going until now. Fingers crossed it continues! Let me know how everything is at home, won’t you? You’ll have to tell me what it’s like being married. I don’t think I shall ever know for myself.
Love to everyone at home,