RAF hero Eric ‘Winkle’ Brown’s medals to be sold for £200k

Eric Brown is reunited with the Messerschmitt Me 163B-1a Komet at the National Museum of Flight in East Fortune in 2015. Picture: Neil Hanna
Eric Brown is reunited with the Messerschmitt Me 163B-1a Komet at the National Museum of Flight in East Fortune in 2015. Picture: Neil Hanna
4
Have your say

remarkable bravery medals and flying log books belonging to Britain’s greatest aviator – Captain Eric ‘Winkle’ Brown – are being sold by his family for £200,000.

The legendary Leith-born test pilot – the most highly decorated in the Royal Navy – died in February this year aged 97.

The wreckage left after Winkle crashed his plane. Picture: contributed

The wreckage left after Winkle crashed his plane. Picture: contributed

His courageous experimental flying which involved piloting a world-record 487 different types of planes and performing 2407 deck landings on aircraft carriers helped change the course of aviation.

Now his family have made the decision to auction off his stunning aviation archive amassed during his 30-year career.

In doing so they have made public his ten log bogs that document Capt Brown’s incredible test work. They cover 20 near-death crashes, flying at the speed of sound and heights of 64,000ft, fast deck landings and projecting from ejector seats.

He methodically made notes of every new aircraft he flew in – be it British, German, American and Russian.

Eric 'winkle' Brown's medals. Picture: contributed

Eric 'winkle' Brown's medals. Picture: contributed

He used non-technical terms such as “shambles” and “chaos in the cockpit” in reviewing aircraft he didn’t like and “climbs like the clappers” to describe a Gloster Meteor jet fighter.

During the Second World War he flew five different aircraft, including a Hurricane, under the Tay Bridge.

His log books record two near-fatal crashes at sea. In July 1944 the engine of Hawker Tempest V blew up and caught fire forcing him to “step out at 1000ft at 170mph” and parachute in to the sea.

Then, in 1949, a Saunders Roe flying boat jet fighter he was piloting struck driftwood on his landing run, causing the aircraft to crash and capsize in 60ft of water. The log books are also filled with black and white photos of crashes Capt Brown had while landing on aircraft carriers.

Eric 'winkle' Brown poses with his medals. Picture; contributed

Eric 'winkle' Brown poses with his medals. Picture; contributed

The archive is being sold in one lot and includes the pioneering airman’s incredible medal group made up of his CBE, Distinguished Service Cross, Air Force Cross and King’s Commendation for Brave Conduct.

There is also a framed Guinness World Record certificate of his 487 different types of aircraft.

A spokesman for auctioneers Bonhams, which is selling the archive, said: “The family has decided that now is the right time to move his medals and log books on and maybe benefit a museum or other institution.

“We are selling his medals, all his log books which list every flight he ever undertook in his flying career, one of his framed Guinness World Records certificates and various photos and documents.

“It is a complete archive and it is something we as auctioneers would never split up. It’s like a classic car – it has to be kept together.

“We are honoured to have been given the chance to sell it given who he was.”

newsen@edinburghnews.com