Jean Batten was a New Zealand aviatrix. During the 1930s, she was well known for taking a number of record-breaking solo flights across the world.
She took her first solo flight in 1930 and gained private and commercial licences by 1932. Jean made two unsuccessful attempts to beat English aviatrix Amy Johnson’s time to fly from England to Australia. She succeeded in 1934, in a Gipsy Moth, making a solo trip of 14 days and 22 hours, beating Amy by 4 days. For this and other record-breaking achievements, Jean was awarded the Harmon Trophy three times from 1935 through to 1937.
After her first Australia flight, Jean bought a Percival Gull Six monoplane, G-ADPR, which was named Jean. In 1935, she set a world record flying from England to Brazil in the Gull, for which she was presented the Order of the Southern Cross. In 1936, she set another world record with a solo flight from England to New Zealand.
At her birthplace in Rotorua, local Māori honoured her. She was given a chief’s feather cloak and the title Hine o te Rangi (Daughter of the Skies). Jean was created Commander of the British Empire (CBE) in 1936, and she was also given the Cross of the French Legion of Honour that year.
In 1938, Jean was the first woman to be awarded the medal of the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale – aviation’s highest honour.