While maybe not as famous as Amy Johnson or Amelia Earhart, for International Women’s Day 2019 we take a look at a female aviation
Born on the 15th September 1909, Jean Gardner Batten began her life in Rotorua, New Zealand and studied ballet as well as being a keen pianist at her boarding college but a flight with Australian aviation legend Charles Kingsford Smith set her on the path to aviation, and record-breaking.
At the age of 20, Jean Batten moved to England and joined the London Aeroplane Club gaining her commercial licence just 3 years later, although it has to be said, with a little charm induced funding from potential suitors!
One of Jean’s main goals was to beat Amy Johnson’s time from England to Australia, in fact, she had a few unsuccesful attempts at it before successfully completing her goal in 1934, beating Amy Johnson’s record by 4 days!
For this, and subsequent records she won the Harmon Trophy for Outstanding Aviators no less than 3 times.
The record that Jean is best known for though came in 1936 when she completed the
Jean’s legacy lives on in a bronze statue at her home airport in Rotorua and two Boeing 737’s named after her at various times, one was with Qantas, ZK-ZQA and the other with British charter airline Britannia Airways who named G-BGYL “Jean Batten”.
Unlike many of her fellow aviators of the era, Jean lived to be 73, she died in 1982.
In 2016 Jean was commemorated by a Google Doodle on what would have been her 107th birthday.
Jean Batten’s Major Flights
- 1934 – England–Australia (women’s record) 16,900 kilometres (10,500 mi) in 14 days 22 hours 30 minutes, breaking Amy Johnson’s record by over four days.
- 1935 – Australia–England in 17 days 15 hours. The first woman ever to make a return flight.
- 1935 – England–Brazil: 8,000 km (5,000 mi) in 61 hours 15 minutes, setting a world record for any type of aeroplane. Also fastest crossing South Atlantic Ocean, 13 1⁄4 hours, and the first woman to make England–South America flight.
- 1936 – England–New Zealand. World record for any type. 22,891 km (14,224 mi) in 11 days 45 minutes total elapsed time, including 2 1⁄2 days in Sydney.
- 1937 – Australia–England. Last long-distance flight. 5 days 18 hours, giving her solo records in both directions.