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Captain Eric Brown died 21 February 2016 at the age of 97 in Surry, England. Brown was born in Leth, Scotland in 1919. This renewed the interest in his memoir and various biographies about Brown. This memoir was originally published in 1961. It has recently been reprinted but also is now an e-book and audiobook.
The book starts in 1939 when Brown was on an exchange course in German from the University of Edinburgh. The Gestapo escorted him from Germany stating the two counties were now at war. Brown briefly covers his early life but most of the book is about his flying career. Brown was the most decorated flyer of WWII in RN history. He is the only man to have flown every type of plane flown or experimented with during WWII not only British but planes from the United States, Italy, Japan and Germany. Brown had more carrier take offs and landings than any other RN pilot. Early in the War he was stationed aboard the carrier HMS Audacity. During the war he was moved from flying combat missions to that of a test pilot. He tested the early British jets and even flew the Nazi jets. After the War he interviewed many Nazi leaders including Hermann Goering and Hanna Reitsch.
I particularly enjoyed the section where he crashed his plane in front of Winston S. Churchill. Earlier Churchill learned to fly planes and survived a crash after which Clementine suggested he stop flying planes. Brown also tells about uncovering a neo-Nazi ring in the 1950’s. During the Korean War Brown flew Panther’s off the carrier HMS Peruses. Brown served in the Royal Navy from 1939 to 1970.
The book is well written and understated in the true English fashion. The book also had a quite understated humor to it. I found the memoir absolutely fascinating and I learned so much more about the air war during WWII but also the various types of planes. If you are interested in airplanes and WWII you will find this a must read book. Cameron Stewart did a good job narrating the book. Stewart is an American film and Television actor who also narrates audiobooks.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
Winkle Brown is simply the very best test pilot E V E R. This book chronicles his long career in the Royal Navy and is truly exceptional. The details about specific flights in props, jets, multiengine, helicopters and gliders (including over 50 German WWII planes) is mind boggling. That he didn't get killed is amazing in and of itself but, then, he was Winkle Brown. What this single individual brought to RN aviation cannot be overstated—test flying myriad aircraft, developing landing techniques including the first jet aboard a carrier, exchange programs with the US and Germany, etc. Moreover, Brown was a liaison to Germany and helped bring the German Navy into NATO. Extraordinary. Not only is his story ever-so good but he's written it in a really engaging tone and voice. If you're interested in cutting edge flying, a terrifically talented and courageous aviator and history that can never be replicated, read or listen to "Wings On My Sleeve."
I found this a real turner. The story of a truly unique flying career, never to be repeated.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
If this were a work of fiction you'd say it was far fetched. Eric Brown was present at so many aviation milestones and saw so much in his long life. He had so many lucky escapes I'm beginning to think it was divine intervention as well as skill and luck that saved him. I met him once and he was a perfect gentleman. His book is gripping throughout and gives an incredible insight into wartime and post-war aviation development.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
This work tends toward the technical and would appeal to senior retired air crew and related support workers I believe.
The risks Eric Brown and many other test pilots accepted as part of their duty during war time and post war Britain amazed me.
This is truly a must read; an amazing book about an amazing life in the air.