Tributes for former Lossiemouth base commander and flying legend

Eric 'Winkle' Brown - 1919 - 2016
Eric ‘Winkle’ Brown – 1919 – 2016

A FORMER COMMANDER of Lossiemouth’s HMS Fulmar and the man widely recognised as one of the world’s greatest aviators has died at the age of 97.

Eric Brown held the world record for flying the greatest number of aircraft types – taking to the air in control of an amazing 487 during his incredible career.

A feature on insideMoray in December told of a new film that had been created celebrating Eric’s life, including extensive interviews with the former Navy flyer that focussed in part on his time as commander of HMS Fulmar from 1967 to 1970.

Leith-born, Eric returned to Lossiemouth around his 90th birthday as the guest of honour at a Battle of Britain memorial dinner on the Moray base, providing modern-day Tornado pilots with an insight into the pioneering days of military aviation and the key part he played in its development.

Eric died at the East Surrey hospital after a short illness. 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. He also held three absolute Guinness World Records, including the number of aircraft carrier deck landings and types of aircraft flown.”

Eric was educated at the Royal High School and University of Edinburgh, where he was taught to fly – following in the footsteps of his father who was a WWI pilot in the RFC and took the young Eric on his first flight.

In 2014 Eric told the BBC: “It was exhilarating, you saw the earth from a completely different standpoint.”

It was immediately following his spell at Lossiemouth that Eric, then 51, finally said farewell to a stunning career in the Royal Navy. He retained an interest in aviation as the director general of the British Helicopter Advisory Board and later became president of the Royal Aeronautical Society.

Last year the Fleet Air Arm Museum in Somerset unveiled a bronze bust of Eric, while more recently he was joined by 100 fellow pilots at a celebration of his 97th Birthday on January 27.

Broadcaster Kirsty Wark summed up Eric after she co-hosted the 3000th edition of Desert Island Discs with him in 2014 – “When you read through his life story, it makes James Bond seem like a bit of a slacker” she said.