Jean Batten

Who is she?

  • Jean Batten is one of New Zealand’s pioneer female aviators. Born on 15 September 1909 in Rotorua, New Zealand, she was made famous by breaking a number of solo flight records during the 1930s (20091).
  • She was always interested in flying and was lucky enough to go on a flight with Charles Kingsford Smith (a famous Australian aviator). Jean learned how to fly in England and among other goals that she had, she wanted to be the first person to fly from England to New Zealand. This goal was achieved in 1936 setting a record which was unbroken for more than 40 years after her flight (20091).
  • Throughout her long flying career Jean won a number of trophies and medals for her flying records and achievements. These flying records were achieved through learning the art of blind flying (flying without any radio, using navigational skills, a map, watch and a compass) (20091). In setting numerous records she received: Brazil’s Officer of the Order of the Southern Cross; the Chevalier de Legion d’Honeur (in France); CBE – Commander of the British Empire (in Britain); and in the US she won the Women’s International Association of Aerobatics Challenge cup three years in a row (20091).
  • After spending numerous years in the public eye, Jean decided it was time for a change and continued to live the rest of her quieter life in Europe, although she did still make several trips back to her homeland of New Zealand where she was guest of honour on a number of special occasions.
  • Jean Batten died in 1982 aged 73 (while living in Palma, Majorca) from an infected dog bite (20091). She was buried the following year in a mass grave in Palma cemetery, but is still honoured at a number of places around New Zealand including MOTAT in the Pioneer’s of Aviation exhibit, and at Auckland International Airport where the international terminal is named in her honour (20091).

Aircraft of Jean Batten:

De Havilland DH60 M Gipsy Moth (G-AARB) – All Jean’s records before 1935 were achieved in the Gipsy Moth. It is a 2-seater, open cockpit biplane with a 4 cylinder engine (20091). Jean modified the aircraft to cater for her needs and to fly longer distances.

DH 60G Gipsy Moths. (image embedded from Wikipedia on 26 October 2009)

Percival Gull (G-ADPR) – After 1935 Jean changed planes from the De Havilland to the Percival Gull. This new aircraft was slightly bigger as it was a 3-seater monoplane which was made of wood and fabric and had a 200-horsepower cylinder engine (20091). It was much faster then her previous aircraft and it could also fly further. This aircraft now hangs on display at the Auckland International Airport (20091).

Jean Batten's Percival D.3 Gull Six on display at Auckland Airport. (image embedded from Wikipedia on 26 October 2009)

Records That Made Jean Batten Famous:

  • 1934 – Broke the women’s record for flying from England to Australia as she did the flight in 14 days, 22 hours and 30 minutes (20091).
  • 1935 – First woman to make a return flight from Australia to England in 17 days and 15 hours (20091).
  • 1935 – Set a few records on her flight from England to South America including: fastest flight (61 hours and 15 minutes), first female on this flight route, and fastest flight across the South Atlantic Ocean (20091).
  • 1936 – Set a record flight from England to New Zealand (11 days and 45 minutes), fastest flight between Australia and New Zealand (10 hours 30 minutes), and broke the England to Australia record (5 days and 21 hours) (20091).
  • 1937 – Flew from Australia to England in 5 days, 18 hours and 15 minutes breaking the solo record and was also the first person to hold both the England to Australia and Australia to England solo flight records at the same time (20091).

Video of Jean Batten.

(Video embedded from YouTube on 26 October 2009)
1. MOTAT (2009). Jean Batten. Retrieved from Motat on 12 October 2009.

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