Document Type

Book Chapter


'Sydney has witnessed similar demonstrations of enthusiasm, but never one that was more spontaneous', wrote one Sydney reporter of Jean Batten's arrival in Mascot in October 1936 on completion of her recordbreaking solo-flight from England to Australia'. Batten greeted the crowd that had waited long hours for her arrival, with an apology and the reminder that it was of course a woman's prerogative to be a little late. The gathering responded with warmth and enthusiasm. Batten had played the woman's card with assurance, good timing and a lightness of touch. This was no easy achievement at the end of an exhausting flight of many days duration; but Jean prided herself on her professionalism - she was flying ace and queen of diamonds. The news media reversed this order, claiming her 'a woman first, adventurer second,' and praising her ability to 'always preserve the essentially feminine'. The driven singlemindedness identified as 'masculine' that some labelled 'selfish' and others 'aggressive', was carefully hidden from view in order to please the crowd; but despite an understanding of the difficulties she faced as a young woman flyer, the degree of opposition to her proposed flight across the Tasman took her by surprise.