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Britain's Greatest Pilot - BBC 2 2100 1/6/14

Yokel

LE
This evening, BBC 2 will broadcast a programme about the exploits of Captain Eric 'Winkle' Brown, WWII Royal Navy fighter pilot and test pilot. If the programme is as exciting as his book then it will be gripping viewing.

This is a man with extraordinary talents that gave him a unique role during the War and afterwards. His skill as a fighter pilot helped prove the concept of the escort carrier, a key innovation during the struggle in the Atlantic (and he describes one convoy battle in some detail), then his aptitude in landing on a carrier resulted in him instructing other naval pilots who were needed to fight the war, from which he started test flying.

He played a role in solving the problems encountered by wartime aircraft. Following Germany's surrender, his talent for languages (which had earned him a University scholarship before the war) led to him being involved in exploring German technologies, and interviewing captured Nazis such as the commandant of Belsen.

Post war he was involved with test flying, squadron flying as a naval pilot, and development work for Fleet Air Arm aircraft and British carrier innovations. He was involved with Cold War work at the MOD, naval attaché to West Germany and finally Command Officer of RNAS Lossiemouth.

He holds the word record for the greatest number of aircraft types flown by a single person. He also was the first Pilot to land a jet on a carrier.
 
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S0I

LE
His skill as a fighter pilot helped prove the concept of the escort carrier, a key innovation during the struggle in the Atlantic (and he describes one convoy battle in some detail), then his aptitude in landing on a carrier resulted in him instructing other naval pilots who were needed to fight the war, from which he started test flying..


The USN might argue with that as they were already exploring the concept in 1940/41. See USS Long Island.,
 

Yokel

LE
Captain Brown is releasing another book - see here.
 

Yokel

LE
Captain Brown also played a role in the development of the helicopter as a vehicle for Search And Rescue, as this article from the RN website notes. He really has contributed to pretty much every area of naval aviation - and much else.
 
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Yokel

LE
Just a thought - will there be a commemoration of the first escort carrier, Audacity, and her role in fighting a significant convoy battle?

Eric Brown was one of her pilots - and splashed a couple of long range reece/attack aircraft.
 

old_fat_and_hairy

LE
Book Reviewer
Reviews Editor
I saw him speak at a Chalke festival a couple of years ago, superb. Funny, modest and a wonderful speaker.
 

Yokel

LE
World’s greatest test pilot remembered with commemorative tribute

Captain Eric ‘Winkle’ Brown CBE DSC AFC FRAeS Royal Navy, who died earlier this year, has been remembered with a commemorative tribute and flypast at Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton.

Eric was the most celebrated test pilot and naval aviator of his generation and flew an incredible 487 different aircraft types, both fixed and rotary wing.

He also carried out an unbeatable 4,678 take offs and landing from aircraft carriers, which to this day stands as a world record. He will be remembered forever as the first man to land a jet aircraft on the deck of a carrier.

As the Royal Navy’s test pilot he flew every category of military aircraft including gliders, fighters, bombers, vertical take-off, amphibious and helicopters, playing a key role in the design of an entire generation of aircraft.

“Captain Eric Brown set the most exacting of standards,” said Commander Henry Mitchell, Commander Air at RNAS Yeovilton.

“His exceptional skill in evaluating complex test programmes pioneered many new developments and his influence continues to inspire today’s pilots, many of whom will be flying from the new Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers.”

The commemorative event, attended by over 600 guests including HRH The Duke of York KG, paid an emotional tribute to Eric’s remarkable career and achievements and included a flypast of more than 40 different naval aircraft, many of which he had flown and tested.

Glenn Melrose-Brown, Eric’s son, was a guest of honour at the event. He said: “My dad was very dutiful to his Royal Navy uniform and to his country.

“He was a very compassionate man, and that is why he encouraged many young people to get into aviation. He wanted to give back some of what he had taken. I would like to thank the Royal Navy, the Fly Navy Heritage Trust, the Fleet Air Arm Museum, and all those who have gone to such effort to make this a memorable day.

“He was an outstanding man, but most of all he was my dad.”

Born in 1919 in Leith, near Edinburgh, Eric Brown joined the Fleet Air Arm in 1939 as a fighter pilot, initially flying the Blackburn Skua. In early 1941 he joined 802 Naval Air Squadron flying Martlets on board HMS Audacity. Eric described landing on her tiny deck as: “challenging to say the least!”

Eric was a keen practitioner, pioneer and advocate of naval aviation all his life. He achieved many notable firsts including the first landing on an aircraft carrier in a twin-engine Mosquito, the first in an Airacobra tricycle undercarriage aircraft and the first in a jet powered Vampire.

Testing up to eight different aircraft a day by 1944, and speaking perfect German, he was appointed as chief pilot on a joint UK/US mission to retrieve Germany’s most closely guarded technological secrets. He flew many captured German aircraft, including their top fighter, which was 125mph faster than our equivalent.

The birth of the jet age saw the top speeds of military fighters increase to a blistering 1400mph, bringing with it new levels of risk for pilots who tested these aircraft. Eric’s ability to remain calm in the face of danger set him apart as he pushed the boundaries of landing faster and heavier aircraft on aircraft carriers.

“The innovative advances of so many of our aviation achievements came at a price,” said

Eric. “It was like playing Russian roulette and test pilots were routinely killed.”

Eric’s courageous and dedicated work helped set in place the high operational safety standards of today. His bravery, ingenuity and indomitable spirit were matched only by his fierce commitment to keep the Navy’s historic aircraft flying as an inspiration to future test pilots.

“Eric was one of the most accomplished British aviators in history and is widely acknowledged as the world’s finest test pilot,” said Rear Admiral Keith Blount OBE, Rear Admiral Fleet Air Arm.

“His accomplishments in the field of carrier aviation are insurmountable and his expertise has been used to inform the design of the nation's new Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers as well as the F35B Lightning II jet.

"Eric’s legacy lives on in the future of the Royal Navy and his memory will continue to inspire generations of aircrew to come. He is simply a true legend.”
 

Auld-Yin

ADC
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
Reviews Editor
And yet after decades of working at the highest levels of aviation, consistently producing work that benefitted not only military aviation but the whole aviation world, the highest award this country could find for him was a CBE!

If anyone deserved a knighthood before any celebs, footballers, minor civil servants etc then it is Eric "Winkle" Brown!
 

TamH70

MIA
Captain Brown was one of the few pilots not only to fly the Me-163 Komet rocket fighter, but also to successfully land it as well, without it turning him into a rapidly expanding ball of petroleum byproducts due to its notorious habit of going bang thanks to its suicidally explosive fuel. He also had more take-offs and landings on carriers than any pilot there's ever been - to such an extent the Americans tried to get one of their pilots to beat him out of national pride.

Guy never even came close.

I'm glad his medals went to a good home, but Auld-Yin is right - a CBE for his service just isn't good enough in a world where footballers get knighthoods for basically kicking a ball around a pitch in the company of another twenty three or so overaged schoolboys.
 

chimera

LE
Moderator
Amazingly impressive career. What a story.

(But i guess, since this is ARRSE we await posters such as @Stonker to come on and tell us Capt Brown was an idiot because he promoted above RN two and a half ring)
 

Yokel

LE
Captain Brown was one of the few pilots not only to fly the Me-163 Komet rocket fighter, but also to successfully land it as well, without it turning him into a rapidly expanding ball of petroleum byproducts due to its notorious habit of going bang thanks to its suicidally explosive fuel. He also had more take-offs and landings on carriers than any pilot there's ever been - to such an extent the Americans tried to get one of their pilots to beat him out of national pride.

Guy never even came close.

I'm glad his medals went to a good home, but Auld-Yin is right - a CBE for his service just isn't good enough in a world where footballers get knighthoods for basically kicking a ball around a pitch in the company of another twenty three or so overaged schoolboys.

Naval Pilots' wings trump Knighthoods.
 

chimera

LE
Moderator

Yokel

LE
Gents this thread is about the achievements of one of our World War Two heroes. Please take your bickering elsewhere.
 

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