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MAKING THE MODERN WORLD
Stories about the lives we've made
people:Jean Batten
Born: 15 September 1909, Rotorua, New Zealand
Died: 22 November 1982, Majorca

Long-distance aviator.

A dentist's daughter from Rotorua in New Zealand, as a teenager Batten was fascinated by the various record-breaking flights being made by pilots such as Charles Lindbergh and Bert Hinckler. In 1930 she travelled to London and took lessons at Stag Lane Aerodrome where Amy Johnson had learned to fly shortly before.

Contemporaries regarded her as 'single-minded, almost to the point of obsession, with flying'. In her record-breaking flights she showed extraordinarily physical endurance and accurate navigation although to most she remained a mysterious remote figure.

In 1934 she flew to Australia, knocking more than four days off Amy Johnson's record. This was a record for women pilots, but in the following year, in her new Percival Gull, she took an outright record, crossing the south Atlantic from Dakar to Port Natal in Brazil in 13 hours and 15 minutes. In 1936 she gained the world record for the fastest flight from Britain to New Zealand and another world record returning from Australia to Britain in just under six days.

Batten was, at one time, the most celebrated flyer in Britain but she always remained remote as a person. As the airlines began to establish long-range routes and the age of record-breaking faded, Batten became reclusive and disappeared from public view.

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