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Signed letter from Jean Batten (1935)

Signed letter from Jean Batten (1935)

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On a visit to Brazil in 1935, shortly after crossing the South Atlantic, Jean Batten thanks an admirer for his praise.

Letter signed by Jean Batten to an admirer. Rio de Janeiro, November 21, 1935. In English. One page. 24.7 cm x 18.7 cm. Good state. Single piece.

When we talk about “aviation pioneers”, we forget about female pioneers. In fact, there were women involved and decisive in all inventions, directly or indirectly. Genius and courage have no gender, and I intend in the coming months and years to present to you even more glorious women who have been underestimated and deserve our attention.

Today I want to talk to you about one of them, which fascinated me a lot: Jean Batten . At the time, it was very famous and attracted crowds. The reason for its fame? A mixture of audacity, beauty (she was called “Garbo of the Skies”) and above all her various distance and flight time records, at a time when planes were still unreliable and there were very few female pilots, due to machismo.

After her first flight from Great Britain to Australia, she set a world record on 13 November 1935, flying from Great Britain to Brazil in thirteen hours and fifteen minutes. It was on that occasion that she wrote and signed this little letter in Rio de Janeiro. Jean was awarded the National Order of the Southern Cross, becoming the first person - who was not a member of the Royal Family - to be honored, due to this record. Afterwards, he performed another incredible feat when he flew from England to New Zealand, his homeland.

In 1938, Jean was the first woman to receive the Medal of the International Aeronautical Federation, aviation's highest honor. However, World War II put an end to his aerial adventures. Although slowly forgotten, the international terminal at Auckland Airport is named after him. And it stays for eternity, in the restricted club of pioneers (pioneers!) of aviation.

This simple letter caught my attention for several reasons. First, it deals with the beginning of aviation, a fascinating subject that I learned to explore with Santos Dumont. Second, she is an exceptional woman, whom I admire. And third, this letter was written in Brazil, a week after one of his greatest achievements, the crossing of the South Atlantic. I make this trip several times a year, comfortably seated in my seat on the huge Airbus, and I'm sure that next time I'll think of Jean who made this journey alone, in her small plane.

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