Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Jean Batten - New Zealand Aviatrix

Here's an old TV movie about Jean Batten, a Golden Age aviatrix who isn't well known--I'd never heard of her before--but has some pioneering achievements to her name. For example, in 1935 she set world records for flying from England to New Zealand and from England to Brazil. She didn't have any money and seems to have financed her flying mainly by being nice to a series of men who hoped to marry her. I should have thought of that, eh? New Zealand On Screen has recently converted the film to a web-viewable format and has been pimping it rather inelegantly to bloggers, so it may have done the rounds of the blogs by now, but I've chosen to hold it until today, which would have been Jean Batten's 101st birthday.

NZ On Screen doesn't seem to be set up to allow me to embed the video, so you'll have to go to their website to view it.

That a pioneer of the technology lived so recently always startles me. Ms. Batten died of infection from a dog bite, of all things. If some Majorcan had a better disciplined canine, she might have been alive today. She was still alive the first time I went up in an airplane. There must be people still living now who were personally acquainted with Orville Wright. What a century that was! If it's any precedent for this one, it's impossible to imagine our society and technology in 2101.

4 comments:

Toriafly said...

I watched that a few months ago-she led a very interesting life!

Angus said...

Thanks for the video! The Percival Gulls certainly attracted some interesting pilots. There are a couple of very brief mentions of Jean by Alex Henshaw in The Flight of the Mew Gull. Beryl Markham (West With the Night) was another of her contemporaries. Golden age it was...

flightless bird said...

Amazing that Ms Batten flew with with Charles Kingsford-Smith before going to the UK - Sydney Airport is named after him and Auckland Airport after her.

Mike Kear said...

I grew up in NZ in the 1950s-1960s. My mother who is now 89 always speaks of Jean Batten as one of her heroes. During WWII Jean Batten ferried fighters from the safety of homeland to the active theatres. Batten was a pioneer aviator, and certainly a woman to be reckoned with. I would guess that to be an aviator in the 1930s you'd be taking your life into your hands so just to take to the air would require more than an average quantity of courage. Batten had courage in bucketloads.