Sunday, 21 February 2016

RIP, Eric "Winkle" Brown, aviator


Captain Eric “Winkle” Brown, from Leith, "The man who seemed not to notice danger", veteran of the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm, holds the world record for flying the greatest number of different aircraft and also piloted Britain’s first supersonic flight. He left us today at the age of 97. A life well lived, in an age where celebrity was earned by way of doing things worth celebrating.

It would be all too easy to write a hackneyed obituary with all the misty-eyed cliches, which I feel are over the top, so I will keep this short. It was an age in aviation where many a great deed was done, in an era affording the opportunity and scope. Eric Brown was one of many greats - but I would pick his passing especially as a marker in time - the passing of an era - an era in which Britain was a major military power, an innovator and world leader in the field of aerospace. 

Britain's aviation heritage is rooted in our collective psyche, and though one must always be cautious about viewing the past through rose tinted glasses, it's always difficult not to look at our historic contribution to aviation wistfully. A proud heritage in which Eric Brown's name will ring out. 

To learn more about our distinct naval aviation heritage, I recommend a trip to the Fleet Air Arm Museum at Yeovilton, which to my mind, bar none, is the finest museum in the country. Britain is an amazing country and her citizens are capable of great things - and many will say Eric Brown was among the best of them.


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