Advertisement

  1. ITV Report

Flypast in memory of 'world's greatest test pilot'

Captain Eric Brown Photo: ITV News

Dozens of historic planes have taken to the skies over Somerset in memory of one of Britain's most decorated pilots.

Eric Brown died at the age of 97 earlier this year, after a career in the Navy in which he flew almost 500 different types of aircraft. Now, he has been remembered at RNAS Yeovilton with a flypast.

Just a few of the aircrafts Captain Brown flew during his career as a Navy Pilot
Captain Eric Brown has been described as

Captain Eric Brown, fondly known as Winkle, was a true flying legend. During the war he experimented with as many as eight different aircraft a day, including those captured from the enemy, and survived 11 crashes.

He was also the first pilot to land the de Havilland Vampire on the deck of an aircraft carrier.

I remember one of my instructors, when I was learning to fly, had 18 different types of aircraft and I thought this guy was to be revered and indeed I did revere him as my instructor. 487 different types of aircraft is just mind blowing. It will never be repeated, it just won't.

– Rear Admiral Keith Blount, Head of the Fleet Air Arm
Eric Brown speaking at RNAS Yeovilton last year

On Thursday, hundreds of people gathered at Yeovilton to pay tribute to "the world's greatest test pilot", including his son who said that he was "deeply honoured":

Overwhelmed. Absolutely overwhelmed. He knew there was going to be a memorial service but he never thought it would be this big. I just find it overwhelming and I'm deeply honoured and I wish he could look down and see it.

– Glenn Melrose-Brown, Brown's son
A bust of Captain Eric Brown was unveiled in 2015

In 2015, Eric Brown came to Yeovilton to see a bust unveiled in his honour at the Fleet Air Arm Museum. He told ITV News how important it was to him to help inspire the Navy pilots of the future.

One of those he has inspired is 11 year old Eachan Hardie from Dorchester, who wrote to Eric Brown asking for advice and received a letter back.

I thought Wow! that's awesome. He's telling me how to achieve my destiny. He had a hand-written letter and a signed picture and he said "I know you want to become a test pilot for the Fleet Air Arm.

– Eachan Hardie

His legacy will continue - a flight skills scholarship is being named in his honour, to ensure the name Eric Brown, so important to the history of Naval aviation, will be attached to its future too.