Eric ‘Winkle’ Brown started his flying career as an operational pilot in the Fleet Air Arm at the outset of World War II, but his exceptional flying skills resulted in a quick transfer to the role of test pilot. He was for several years based at RAE Farnborough, finally as Commander of Aerodynamics Flight. At the end of the war, he famously test flew a large number of captured German aircraft, including the Me262 and the rocket-powered Me163. In Naval Aviation he achieved several notable ‘firsts’, not least the first landing of a jet fighter onto a carrier (a Vampire in Dec 1945).
In his long piloting career, he flew 487 different aircraft types – a record that will surely never be beaten. In the past both Farnborough Branch and the Farnborough Air Sciences Trust were privileged to hear Winkle Brown speak at first hand about his life on a number of occasions. It will therefore be of particular interest to hear Paul Beaver give an observer’s view of his career and present a considered evaluation of his contribution to aviation.
Paul is currently working on a biography of Winkle Brown, to be published in 2018, and has had unrivalled access to Winkle’s private papers, so this lecture is likely to reveal new insights into his professional life.
Paul Beaver is an aviation historian, broadcaster and writer, well-known as the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Jane’s Defence Weekly – a role he fulfilled for 15 years. A qualified pilot, he owns and flies a Miles Messenger vintage aircraft and has also piloted several other aircraft, including a Spitfire and a Mustang. As a freelance journalist he has frequently been called upon to discuss topical military aviation events on the BBC News and Sky News and he has also presented documentary programmes on the latter channel, covering such topics as the Balkan conflicts of the 1990s, the Cold War and the Battle of Britain. He has written a number of books, among them a comprehensive account of naval aviation: ‘The British Aircraft Carrier’.
Farnborough Aerospace Centre
Hants GU14 6XN