National memorial service planned for air legend Eric ‘Winkle’ Brown

Captain Eric Brown. Picture: Neil Hanna

Captain Eric Brown. Picture: Neil Hanna

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The life of an Edinburgh-born pilot hailed as one of the bravest in British history is set to be celebrated with a national memorial service.

Eric “Winkle” Brown, who passed away last Sunday aged 97, will be laid to rest privately next month.

But the Royal Navy are planning their own commemoration so the public can pay tribute to the Leith-born pilot - dubbed the “world’s greatest aviator”.

It will include a special fly-past by modern fighter jets and World War II aircraft.

Paul Beaver, 62, a close friend of Eric, is helping the Royal Navy to plan the memorial, which he hopes will take place at the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm Museum in Yeovilton, Somerset, in July.

He said: “We are all still reeling about the death of Eric. Even though he was 97, everyone believed he would go on forever. The world has lost a legend.

“The Royal Navy have decided to honour him with a national memorial service. We are hoping to coincide the event with the arrival in the UK of the RAF’s new F35 fighter jets, which Eric was asked to consult on a few years ago.

“If the timings are right, they will perform a fly-past alongside some of the older planes Captain Brown flew during his illustrious career.”

He added: “The aim of the day will to be to rejoice in the life of a man who lived every moment at full throttle. It is going to be spectacular.”

The Royal Navy’s most-decorated pilot, Eric, who was educated at Edinburgh’s Royal High, witnessed the liberation of Bergen Belsen concentration camp and was one of only two men to survive the sinking of HMS Audacity in 1941.

Paying tribute, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “Eric Brown was a truly extraordinary man, whose life reads like an adventure story and whom Scotland should be very proud of.”