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Eric Brown (1919 - 2016)

Getty Images / Jeff J. Mitchell

Eric Brown (1919 - 2016)

Eric “Winkle” Brown, a captain in the British Royal Navy and test pilot who flew more types of airplanes than anyone else in history, has died. He was 97.

The death Sunday was announced by his family. Brown had been hospitalized for an acute illness.

Brown was the first navy flier to land a dual-engine airplane on an aircraft carrier. It was just one of several “firsts” for the Fleet Air Arm’s most decorated pilot. Brown also tested 487 different kinds of airplanes, the most by any other flier in aviation history. The feat is recorded in the “Guinness Book of World Records.”


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Born Jan. 21, 1919, in Leith, Scotland, Brown became interested in flying at an early age. He went on to serve during World War II. After the war, he led an elite group of fliers who test-piloted enemy aircraft that the Allies had captured during the war. Among the aircraft were 53 types of German planes.

Brown also wrote books and articles about his test-pilot experiences. His autobiography, “Wings on My Sleeve,” came out in 1961. He also penned a popular series of articles titled “Viewed From the Cockpit.”

He served as president of the Royal Aeronautical Society from 1982 to 1983.

About a year ago, Brown shared his thoughts about British air and defense strategies during a lecture at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.

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