On a sadder note: Britain’s leading navy test pilot and rocket plane test flier Eric “Winkle” Brown passes away

by | Feb 22, 2016 | History, On a Sadder Note, Technology | 0 comments

During February the death of Eric “Winkle” Brown, age 97, was announced. Having briefly served in the Royal Air Force, Brown had transferred to the Senior Service to become the leading test pilot in the Royal Navy. “Winkle” Brown, whose nickname referred to his short stature, became the Royal Navy’s most decorated pilot.

Brown test flew nearly every aircraft employed during World War II, including a captured Me-163B Komet rocket plane, which he regarded as an exhilarating high-performance death-trap due to its volatile rocket propellants. But his most distinctive role was to perfect carrier landing techniques with jet aircraft. He survived 11 plane crashes and the sinking of HMS Audacity in 1941.

The Scottish-born Brown, who was a fluent German speaker, used this talent at the end of World War II to interrogate the Luftwaffe leader and leading Nazi, Herman Goering, and to restore his connection with the famous German test flying aviatrix, Hanna Reitsch, whom he had met before the war. Brown himself witnessed the evil of the Nazi regime when he was at the liberation of the Bergen Belsen concentration camp.

As a post-war test pilot, Brown was contempory with the likes of Chuck Yaeger and Neil Armstrong. Brown declared that he was not envious of US fighter pilots who later became astronauts.  However Brown did note wish he could have flown the US hypersonic research aircraft, the X-15, which was once the mount of Neil Armstrong.

Seradata gives its condolences to Winkle Brown’s family and friends.

Post Script: Just a short note of tribute to actor George Kennedy who has passed away at the age of 91. In addition to playing menacing tough guys in his film career, including an Oscar-winning performance in Cool Hand Luke (1967), Kennedy also played Joe Patroni, the ground engineer who you would not want to be without, in the excellent Airport movie of 1970.  That film and its not-so-good successors which Kennedy also starred in, were later parodied by the Airplane comedy franchise which Kennedy declined to take part in.

About Seradata

Seradata produce the renowned SpaceTrak Launch & Satellite Database. Trusted by 100 of the world’s leading Space organisations, SpaceTrak is a fully queryable database used for market analysis, failure/risk assessment, spectrum analysis and space situational awareness (SSA).

For more information go to www.seradata.com/spacetrak

Related Articles

IAC 2022 Paris: Ariane introduces reusable upper stage concept SUSIE

ArianeGroup unveiled SUSIE, its reusable Smart Upper Stage for Innovative Exploration, on the first day of the International Space Astronautical Read more

Apple to bankroll Globalstar satellites

Globalstar, one of the original LEO constellation operators, will be used by Apple to allow iphone users to send emergency Read more

Axiom Space to produce new NASA lunar space suits

NASA has selected Axiom Space to deliver a moonwalking-capable spacesuit for the planned Artemis III human landing mission. This will Read more

Second “suborbital” spaceplane test for China hints at reusable two-stage launch system or one for fractional orbital bombardment

Details are sketchy but during late August, China mounted a launch of its suborbital/fractional orbital spaceplane from the Jiuquan launch Read more

Firefly to help build Antares 330 stage after Russian engine supply halted

Northrop Grumman Corporation and launch vehicle manufacturer Firefly Aerospace have joined forces to provide an American-built first-stage upgrade for the Read more

India’s quick response SSLV small launch vehicle fails on first mission

The maiden flight of India’s latest rocket, the SSLV, has gone wrong. After an apparently successful launch from the Satish Read more

Raytheon buys UK Space Situational Awareness specialist NORSS but looks to Star Wars lasers to counter drone menace on Earth

The US defence firm Raytheon which is moving away from what it was most famous for air launched missiles - Read more

The Great British race to reach orbit from UK (Updated)

The final flight in 1971 of Black Arrow, a British satellite carrier rocket developed in the 1960s, remains the first Read more

Categories

Archives