To be invited to write a foreword to this remarkable book is a privilege which I value more than I can say, and I wish I felt that I could do justice to such an inspiring theme.
Jean Batten is a name which will figure for all time in history, and we can feel proud that we have lived in the same period and been the contemporaries and the witnesses of her remarkable achievements. The pioneering spirit of the British, their careless indifference to danger, their modesty in success, and their refusal to accept failure are national qualities demonstrated by the great names we honour at all times in our history, and the same brilliant company has been responsible for our far-flung Empire and the great responsibilities which fall to our national lot and which succeeding generations have sought to discharge.
Jean Batten typifies all these great qualities, and embodies in her attractive personality the true tradition of the British race. She has told us the narrative of her career. She has exaggerated nothing, she has concealed nothing, and we are fortunate to possess a textbook for this and succeeding generations to study and page 8 reap the obvious benefits. The narrative is inspiring, enthralling, and instructive—inspiring by reason of the courage and determination with which she undertook her historic flights, enthralling because of the epic story which she unfolds with its vivid descriptive passages, and instructive as showing that, given the good fortune of overcoming what we might call the major risks of weather and mechanical difficulties, she left nothing to chance in the way of inspection of her aeroplane and attention to the minor points of detail, which are the hallmark of the good and experienced pilot. As a navigator she is in my judgment second to none.
Jean Batten stands for more than a skilled and intrepid pilot. She has shown outstanding courage, prudence, and resource, and she blazons forth to the world the potentialities for good the discovery of aviation provides, and challenges the spectre of war which is casting its baneful shadow over the world in the employment of aircraft as an engine of destruction rather than as the agent for spiritual well-being and material progress. It would indeed be unfortunate if the destructive capacity of aircraft were to prevail and destroy all these tremendous influences for good which exist throughout the world but seem to lack the concentrated and determined organization for their proper development and final success.
Communications and transport operated by aircraft, its capabilities and possibilities so courageously demonstrated by Jean Batten and so eloquently described in this book, sound the note our ears are longing to hear, page 9 and in encouraging her and honouring her we are endeavouring to divert human mentality from the fear and suspicion of war waged on a hitherto unknown scale of destruction to the sunny highway of international co-operation through an agency which can be said to be only in its infancy to-day, but which holds out blessings and benefits of incomparable value.
April 14, 1938 Londonderry