Sunday, 4 March 2018

Jean Batten on Solo flying

Adventures over Land and Sea

Just a few of her adventures as told in her books.  Her book ‘Alone in the sky’ is a reprint of her 1938 book ‘My life’ which can be borrowed from the New Zealand History and Travel section on the 1st Floor, 629.13z BAT. 

Solo flight by Jean Batten c.1934
April 9th 1933 Jean set off from England bound for Australia. It was to be her 1st unsuccessful attempt. Her second attempt April 21st, 1934 also failed when she crash landed at Rome. Her 3rd attempt leaving Lympne on the 8th May 1934 was successful Arriving in Darwin on May 23rd 1934.

 On arrival in Rome, Jean discovers that no-one is there to meet her or expect her to land as it was Sunday.  Jean writes “Aviators should be warned against arriving at a European aerodromes on Sunday for things are very quiet on the continent” she decided to fly on to Naples. 

  Over the Aegean Sea “when I had been over the sea for 2 hours, I experienced a terrible loneliness – my only company were the four flames from the stubb-exhaust pipes of my engine… when nearing one of the many islands, I perceived someone signalling to me in Morse code.  I wished with all my heart that I was more proficient at morse, and could read the message…”

On approaching the mountains… “I experienced a series of small bumps… I was flying at 5000 ft. and had only flown for a few minutes when encountering a sudden down draft of great intensity, the plane dropped 2000 ft. in a few seconds.

  On arriving in Aleppo, some French Air Force officers told her some interesting  facts about the place, “one being whereas in other countries people walk along the street with their dogs, in Aleppo they lead lambs and sheep which they have dyed their favourite shade”

   Once in Syria Jean experienced a sand storm, “I did not know at the time that sand storms travel in circles and after flying through one into apparently clear weather, a flyer is likely to meet the same storm again”

  After an unscheduled stopover in Baluchistan, where she had more adventure than bargained for, she arrived close to her next stop, Karachi only for her engine to fail again and she crash landed on the ‘Drigh Rd’ wrecking the plane, but surviving uninjured,  thus ending her first attempt to fly solo from England to Australia.  

Jean Gardner Batten. New Zealand Free Lance
Ref: 1/2-087791-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington. /records/23235041

My Life by Jean Batten c.1938.

  At Ende she saw a volcano erupting so flew near the mountain to get a better view “of this awe-inspiring sight, but when a cloud of smoke and fine ash temporarily obscured my view I decided I had seen enough and headed out to sea…”

 On landing in Rangoon “ I discovered the disconcerting news that the monsoon was expected to break sooner than usual” five hours out of Rangoon the next day “the rain thundered down on to the wings of my aeroplane like millions of tiny pellets… very soon the cockpit almost flooded, and my tropical flying suit wet through”

Victoria Point: “after 35 minutes of anxious cruising the curtain of rain lifted temporarily, disclosing the bases of the mountains. I located a clearing in the jungle which was the aerodrome, although it resembled a lake, and landed just as the rain closed in again. Great sprays of water rose on each side of the machine as it taxied to where a group of natives were sheltering under umbrellas and grass mats. A white clad figure waded out to meet me… ‘Better take the plane over to the dry patch…only a few inches deep, and I stepped out of the cockpit up to my ankles in water”