"I have a nature that doesn't panic in these situations"
February 23, 2016 6:47 AM   Subscribe

RIP Captain Eric "Winkle" Brown, Royal Navy officer, Battle of Britain survivor and test pilot who flew a record breaking 487 different types of aircraft. posted by fearfulsymmetry (13 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Wow. First I have heard of Winkle, but very impressed by his service, talents and skill. He certainly did have the right temperament for combat flying. I thank him for his service.

posted by AugustWest at 7:17 AM on February 23, 2016

Thanks for posting this. Captain Brown was a most remarkable man and as intrepid an aviator as ever strapped on a parachute. He may be seen in several recent WWII documentaries which show that despite his advanced age, he had not lost a bit of his Scottish wit.

For anyone interested in his expert opinions on the performance of Axis aircraft, his "Wings of the Luftwaffe" is a great read; it has sold in excess of 100,000 copies. For some reason, many British pilots seem to excel at aviation literature, and Captain Brown was among the best of the lot.
posted by rdone at 7:19 AM on February 23, 2016

From the pic at the top of the "Greatest pilot ever?" article - when your tailor has to install a curtain rod on your suitcoats to handle all of the medals hanging off you, the case may well be made.

posted by Slap*Happy at 7:19 AM on February 23, 2016 [3 favorites]

Oh crap. Eric Brown died? That sucks. I will always treasure his description of flying a captured ME-163 rocket plane. The man was a serious badass.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 7:21 AM on February 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


Didn't know he was part of the Miles M52 saga, one of the uglier aspects of the formation of the “Western Bloc”. You didn't get to be part of the Pax Americana unless you handed over your shiny tech.
posted by scruss at 7:25 AM on February 23, 2016

posted by Gelatin at 7:34 AM on February 23, 2016 [5 favorites]

I only found out about Brown when I managed to randomly catch that documentary when the BBC first showed it ... it's basically one gob-smacking moment after another.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 7:42 AM on February 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

His writings on test-piloting are worthy reads. He will be sorely missed.

posted by pjern at 9:01 AM on February 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

Somehow this is the first I've heard of this man. What an amazing life. Thanks, fearfulsymmetry, for posting.
posted by exogenous at 9:53 AM on February 23, 2016

Re: The Story of Captain Winkle Brown

Anyone know where a guy from the USA could purchase that documentary on a pressed DVD? (In other words, not a recorded DVD+-R, although I would settle for that if it was the only choice available.)

That was a great documentary, and it would compliment the one I already have of him where he talks about just what a beast the ME-163 was, even for him.

Truly an amazing individual. I, and I'm sure many others, will miss him.

Thanks for the post, even if it is terrible news. And, again, if anyone knows where I can purchase a copy of that documentary, I'd really appreciate some help.

. and RIP Eric Brown.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 10:38 AM on February 23, 2016

"There are old test pilots, and there are bold test pilots, but there are no old, bold test pilots."

That may be true now, but it wasn't true a couple of days ago.

We British have a bit of a thing about aviation, and like to think of ourselves as indefinably superior to other nations in this respect (as in many others, of course, but we don't like to boast). Battle of Britain, Biggles, Dambusters, Concorde (there may have been some other lot involved in that, but the argument stands), Comet... all these things feed nicely into the internal narrative. When settling into your long-haul seat there is nothing quite so reassuring as the Home County tones of Captain Trubshaw on the PA.

The raw facts don't justify the prejudice. Counter-arguments may easily be made, counter-examples cluster thickly on the radar screen. Indeed, after a lifetime considering the matter, a chap might come to the view that excellence in aviation is bestowed impartially, regardless of culture, language or birthplace, and it is an adventure in which all humanity may excel.

And then one considers Eric "Winkle" Brown, and such nonsense is swiftly put to flight.

A nation salutes you, sir.
posted by Devonian at 11:33 AM on February 23, 2016 [8 favorites]

posted by Kevin Street at 2:05 PM on February 23, 2016

Fantastic story! Thanks for posting.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 5:40 PM on February 23, 2016

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