Eric 'Winkle' Brown dead: Famed British pilot dies aged 97

Capt Brown died at the East Surrey Hospital after a short illness

Capt Eric “Winkle” Brown, one of the most celebrated British pilots in history, has died at the age of 97.

The Scottish-born airman was the Royal Navy’s most decorated pilot and held three world records, including flying the greatest number of different types of aircraft, at 487.

He died on Sunday at the East Surrey Hospital, Redhill after a short illness, according to the BBC.

Capt Brown flew fighter aircraft during World War Two and questioned several senior Nazis at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, which was liberated by the British Army in April 1945.

During his lifetime he made a record-breaking 2407 aircraft carrier landings and survived 11 plane crashes.

While a guest on the BBC’s Desert Island Discs in 2014, presenter Kristy Young said: “When you read through his life story, it makes James Bond seem like a bit of a slacker.”

Born in Leith on 21 January 1919, he went on to study at Fettes College and the University of Edinburgh where, to earn money for his studies, he became a “wall of death” rider on a small motorbike, the Edinburgh News reports.

Capt Brown retired from the Royal Navy in 1970 having commanded HMS Fulmar, but became the director general of the British Helicopter Advisory Board and in 1982 the president of the Royal Aeronautical Society.

In 2015 he was honored at 10 downing Street as a Great Scot.


A statement released by his family said: "It is with deep regret that the passing of Captain Eric Melrose Brown CBE DSC AFC is announced.

"Eric was the most decorated pilot of the Fleet Air Arm in which service he was universally known as 'Winkle' on account of his diminutive stature."

Capt Brown is survived by his son, Glen, and his second wife, Jean Kelly Brown.