On December 30, 1936, Maryse Bastie broke Batten’s record when she crossed the South Atlantic in 12 hours and 5 minutes from Dakar, Senegal, to Natal in Brazil.
She was born Marie-Louise Bombec in Limoges, Haute-Vienne; Bastié’s father died when she was eleven, and her family struggled to survive. As an adolescent she worked in a shoe factory, money was scarce and an early marriage that failed left her with a child, who died young, and limited means. As a result of her marriage to Louis Bastié, a World War I pilot, she became fascinated by the new phenomenon of powered flight and was determined to become a pilot and to own her own plane. She obtained her license to fly and although her husband was killed in a plane crash (in 1926), Maryse Bastié began doing aerobatics to earn money to keep herself flying and in 1927 purchased her own aircraft, a Caudron C.109.
Records set by Maryse Bastié in the 1930s included international records for women in duration flying, distance, and a record time for a solo flight across the South Atlantic. Her performances earned her the Harmon Trophy in 1931. In 1935 she founded her own flying school at Orly Airport.
Maryse Bastié served in the French Air Force, rising to the rank of Captain while logging more than 3,000 hours’ flying time. The government of France made her a Commander of the Legion of Honor. In 1937, she published her story under the title Ailes ouvertes: carnet d’une aviatrice.