Death Disclosed Of Jean Batten, Pioneer Aviator
LONDON (AP) _ Jean Batten, a recond-setting aviator in the 1930s, died in obscurity five years ago and is buried in a pauper’s grave in Spain, a London newspaper reported today.
The Times of London headlined its obituary ″Daughter of the Skies″ - a title she was given by a Maori tribe in her native New Zealand.
Miss Batten, born in 1909, once ranked with Amelia Earhart and Amy Johnson as an intrepid flier, and crowds flocked to see her arrive or depart on epic flights. But she never piloted after World War II, and became a reclusive at her homes in Jamaica and on the Spanish islands of Tenerife and Majorca.
She had been considered missing since 1982 when she was last seen on an airline flight from London to Majorca.
The Daily Telegraph reported Saturday that relatives in New Zealand had been unsuccessful in tracing Miss Batten until last week, when Spanish authorities said she had died of natural causes Nov. 22, 1982, at age 73. The Telegraph described her as ″the Garbo of aviation.″
Her body was buried in an unmarked pauper’s grave on Majorca in January 1983 because no one had claimed it, the newspaper said.
Miss Batten, who never married, ended her flying career at 30, but she already had been decorated by the governments of Britain, France and Brazil for her accomplishments.
In 1934, aged 25, Miss Batten took 15 days to fly a Gypsy Moth from England to Australia, cutting nearly five days off Amy Johnson’s record for that flight. She also set records for flights across the South Atlantic to Argentina.
Her autobiography ″My Life″ first appeared in 1937, and it was reissued in 1979 as ″Alone in the Sky.″
Miss Batten left New Zealand when she was 20 to come to London where, instead of studying piano as planned, she took flying lessons and received a pilot’s license.
When World War II began, Miss Batten wanted to serve as a ferry pilot in the air transport field - the only flying role for women in the war - but a shoulder injury from one of her many crashes disqualified her from military service.