Friday, 18 April 2014

An evening with Captain Eric "Winkle" Brown

The last of the Sywell Aviation Museum's winter talks was held at the Aviator Hotel on Wednesday 2 April 2014.  The speaker for the evening was the most famous British test pilots of all, Captain Eric "Winkle" Brown, who at the tender age of 95, is still as fascinating and entertaining as ever he was.
There was a large audience present that was not disappointed by the two-part lecture Eric delivered in his own precise and detailed style. The stories and anecdotes he related can be found in his books and some of the most interesting included the interview with Hanna Reitsch, the German lady test pilot, who test flew a manned version of the Fieseler V1 "Doodlebug", when in its early development displayed some unwanted flying characteristics. The story of meeting famous WWI fighter ace Ernst Udet was another story that was interesting as was the insight into operating the Me-163 Komet, which clearly is not one of his favourite aircraft.

During the break, Eric's wife sold a selection of his books, which he signed with personal comments, something we have become accustomed to.
When asked what his favourite German aircraft was, the answer was immediate, the Focke Wulf FW-190D in which Eric spent several hours of test flying to establish its characteristics.
Asked what is all-time favourite was again the answer came without hesitation, the Supermarine Spitfire Mk9.


It is probably fair to say that Eric is the last of an exceptional group of aviators in the world that lived through a period when aircraft development, especially for military purposes, happened at such a rate that they had the opportunity to experience a wide and extensive range of aircraft that their modern day equivalents can only dream of.
An evening to remember and treasure and thanks to Andy Shemans and his team at the Sywell Aviation Museum for making this happen.
The museum is re-opening its doors for the 2014 season on Easter Saturday, 19 April, so go along and see what is on show on the day. Peter Teichmann is due to fly in with his Spitfire and there may be some others too.

Theo Claassen
10 April 2014

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