….with the news that British Capt Eric “Winkel” Brown died February 21. His list of accomplishments is long.
He wasn’t in the RAF, but the Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy. Before the war, he was friends with the famed German aviator Ernst Udet.
Just some of his accomplishments: Flew almost 500 types of aircraft. Most carrier landings – 2,407. First to land a jet on a carrier.
His most memorable accomplishment to me was being the only allied pilot ever to fly the Me163 Komet.
This rocket-powered plane killed a lot of pilots. The fuel, a mixture of 2 components (C-Stoff and T-Stoff) when the plane was being fueled, was extremely volatile and prone to explosion. The plane itself, which Brown described as a bullet, was easily capable of +Mach speeds but once crossed there the pilot would lose all control.
If you landed with even a cup of the fuel left, you would probably blow up.
Towards the end of the war, Brown was in a unit that traveled northern Germany seeking high tech aircraft. He came across a Komet, read the German technical manual, fired it up and flew it.
The list of test pilots who are the “best of the best” is very small. One can give many nominations – but Brown would be at the top of my list.
His remarkable story is here.