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Jean Batten - The Garbo of the Skies - In the s Jean Batten broke solo distance flying records and achieved international fame. Directed by her biographer.
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She met renowned pilot Kingsford-Smith on a visit to Australia in and took a ride in his plane.

Jean Batten – The Garbo of the Skies

It was then that Jean decided to become a pilot. She travelled to London, joined an aero club, and in at the age of 21 she made her first solo flight for her private pilot licence. At twenty, Jean was a bit of a slow learner. Her colleagues described her as "far from being a natural pilot". One of them recalled the day she crashed: flying solo, she had overshot on landing, hit a wire fence and overturned.

Although she emerged physically unscathed, her confidence was shaken. She doubted that she would ever be any good at flying. Yet she persisted, urged on by the prominence of Amy Johnson's historic flight from England to Australia in just Jean obtained her commercial licence in , and immediately made two attempts to fly to Australia.

In the first, the engine of her Gipsy Moth stopped, and she was forced to land short of Karachi Airfield in India. A year later, in another second-hand Gipsy Moth, she ran out of fuel, and had to land near Rome. But Jean was no quitter. In May , her day came. She knocked four days off Amy Johnson's record, by flying alone in a tiny aircraft made of wood and fabric, from England to Australia, in just under fifteen days. To top it, she flew back. Later, she piloted a small cabin plane across the South Atlantic; and became the first person ever to fly solo from England to New Zealand.

Her record covering 14, miles in 11 days and 45 minutes stood for 44 years. Her flights became legendary in the years of the Depression, when people craved escapism. Long-distance solo record flying became an epidemic. The public would literally cause traffic jams to see the flying celebrities touch down in their moment of glory. But in the late thirties, with the war looming, solo aviation records lost their appeal.

Jean Batten hung up her flying helmet and went into fiercely guarded seclusion. She resurfaced briefly in the sixties, when she offered herself for media interviews. But by then, most people didn't know her name. The Garbo of the skies had achieved obscurity.

In she went to Majorca to look for a new home. That was the last time anybody heard from her. In fact, Jean had died in Palma just five weeks after arriving on the island. But it took five years for that fact to be unearthed. Her death certificate gives no indication of the cause of death. Nobody knows where she is buried. Its sleek looks contrasted with the biplanes typical of the period.

Jean Batten's three seater version, of which there were only 19, was built in and cost her pounds sterling, "every penny I owned". The monoplane was constructed of wood and fabric and has a wingspan of It made many record breaking flights until war broke out in when it was requisitioned by the Royal Air Force as a communication aircraft bearing the designation AX Percival Aircraft, designers and manufacturers of the Vega Gull, later to become the Hunting Group bought the plane in at the end of the war.

The Company used it only intermittently, so in April the Group presented it to the Shuttleworth Trust to join their collection of historical aircraft.

This was sponsored by the Hunting Group in association with the Shuttleworth Trust and began in It was a massive task to make this historic aircraft completely airworthy again. Auckland International Airport Limited borrowed the plane to be displayed in The International Terminal during for New Zealand's th anniversary celebrations which coincided with the 25th anniversary of the opening of Auckland International Airport. Technical books in It was based on Ian Mackersey's biography.

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Google Doodle pays tribute to ‘Garbo of the skies’ Jean Batten

A primary school in Mangere is named after her as are streets in Auckland , Christchurch , Mount Maunganui , Wellington , Wallington and in her birthplace of Rotorua. The historic Jean Batten building occupies the small block between Fort and Shortland streets also bounded by Jean Batten Place in Auckland and has been incorporated into the new Bank of New Zealand head office building.

A bronze sculpture of Batten is located in the main terminal of Rotorua Regional Airport and memorial panels are installed in the building. A small park in the middle of Rotorua city is named after her.

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In , Google Doodle commemorated her th birthday. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Jean Batten.

Rotorua , New Zealand. Palma, Majorca , Spain. Retrieved 17 September Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 11 May Retrieved 23 December Te Ara — the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 22 October Retrieved 18 September For reprint rights: Times Syndication Service. Choose your reason below and click on the Report button. This will alert our moderators to take action.


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Jean Batten | NZHistory, New Zealand history online

ET Online and Agencies. Batten's ambition to learn to fly developed in the late s, and this desire led her to become the golden girl of s aviation. She later went on to become the first woman ever to make the return flight. By , she had made the first ever direct flight between England and New Zealand and then the fastest ever trans-Tasman flight.