Wings on My Sleeve: The World's Greatest Test Pilot tells his story
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The autobiography of one of the greatest pilots in history.
In 1939 Eric Brown was on a University of Edinburgh exchange course in Germany, and the first he knew of the war was when the Gestapo came to arrest him. They released him, not realising he was a pilot in the RAF volunteer reserve: and the rest is history. Eric Brown joined the Fleet Air Arm and went on to be the greatest test pilot in history, flying more different aircraft types than anyone else.
During his lifetime he made a record-breaking 2,407 aircraft carrier landings and survived eleven plane crashes. One of Britain's few German-speaking airmen, he went to Germany in 1945 to test the Nazi jets, interviewing (among others) Hermann Goering and Hanna Reitsch. He flew the suicidally dangerous Me 163 rocket plane, and tested the first British jets. WINGS ON MY SLEEVE is 'Winkle' Brown's incredible story.
On 1st February 1942 five of the seven surviving Audacity pilots helped to reform 802 Squadron at Yeovilton. The squadron was equipped with Hurricanes. The cleverly conceived Miles M.20 which the author was sent to Farnborough in January 1942 to assess as a prospective naval combat aircraft. He reported that the plane, although surprisingly nippy in performance, could not match the Martlet, Hurricane or Spitfire for manoeuvrability. It was a surprisingly nippy aircraft, but not as manoeuvrable
out to be justified when the Korean War developed. The role of naval aviation in this ‘brush fire’ war was to give close support for the Army. The US Navy quickly found that their Banshee and Panther jets, with three times the fuel capacity of the Vampire, burned fuel at low altitudes so fast that their time over the support area was impracticably short. The Australians, too, with their Meteors, found themselves severely restricted, even operating as they did from land airstrips. The Americans
to make our lives a misery. It was a grotesque situation. Here we were, a British ex-civilian and three German regular officers, victor and vanquished, trying to live together in a derelict hut on a deserted airfield in the snow. There was absolutely nowhere to go - the Germans dared not move from the aerodrome - and nothing whatsoever in the way of entertainment, not even a book or a pack of cards. There was only one thing we could do to pass the time. Awkwardly at first, we talked. We were
how it could cope with a single-engine deck landing with its power boosted rudder. Six years after its tests at Farnborough the author was given the chance to fly a specially adapted Tigercat with a periscope sight, from a supine piloting position. He described it as ‘a hair-raising experience’. The British Short Sturgeon tried to solve it by fitting contra-rotating propellers, which had shorter blades than the normal type, thus allowing the engines to be brought much closer to the fuselage
them on again as he had his hands very full with the ugly situation which had developed. So there was no instrumented proof that he had been through the sound barrier. John Derry himself was the first to appreciate this and never personally pushed this claim in opposition to that of the Americans when they smashed the sound barrier in the Bell X-1. There is no doubt that he did exceed the speed of sound, but not in controlled flight. I had already flown a slow-speed version of the 108 and was