There are not many more interesting lives than Captain Eric ‘Winkle’ Brown’s, the most decorated pilot in Royal Navy history and dubbed the greatest pilot of all time, he holds a number of phenomenal world records and world firsts.

The most impressive of these records is that Captain Brown flew an astonishing 487 different types of aircraft, a record which shows no sign of being surpassed by the pilots of today.

This huge list of aircraft includes almost every category of RAF aircraft: glider, fighter, bomber, airliner, amphibian, flying boat and helicopter but that’s not all, as well as British aircraft, during World War II, he also flew a number of captured German aircraft such as jets and rocket planes.

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A captured German plane in British markings being flown by Brown in 1944

The veteran, who was born in Leith, Edinburgh, was also the first man to land and take-off a jet aircraft from an aircraft carrier, something which he went on to repeat another 2,406 times, another world record.

A colourful career spanning 31 years included such exploits as witnessing the horrors of a concentration camp liberated by the British, surviving 11 plane crashes and the HMS Audacity sinking, before later being shot at and injured by a German long-range bomber.

A collection of his medals are going up for auction at Bonhams on the 23rd of November and the lot, valued at £150,000 to £200,000, will include the Distinguished Service Cross and the Air Force Cross, as well as the CBE he was awarded in 1970.

John Millensted, head of medals and coins at the auction house, said: “We are selling his entire archive, including his incredibly important medals.”

In regards to the reasoning for the sale, Mr Millensted also went on to state that “It has been a very difficult decision for the family. It was felt that it was appropriate to sell now so that others might appreciate them for the future.”

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3rd December 1945, Brown became the first pilot to take off from an aircraft carrier

At William George & Co. we host a militaria auction every month, featuring a host of rare arms, and WWI & WWII items, as well as uniform, medals and more from a wide range of eras and countries.

Our next auction catalogue will be live shortly and will end on the 29th November, find it here

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