104 great minutes

If you’ve got 104 spare minutes, I can’t recommend this highly enough. Eric “Winkle” Brown, legendary test pilot, gives a lecture to the Yeovilton branch of the RAeS.

There are encounters with Winston Churchill, Frank Whittle, Wernher von Braun, Hermann Göring, Hanna Reitsch, and Heinrich Himmler. There are aircraft as wonderful as the Spitfire IX, as awful as the General Aircraft design he flew 19 times, because there were 19 flight-test engineers available at RAE Farnborough and none of them were willing to fly in it a second time, not even Anne Burns, and as weird as the DH.110. There is stage craft – at one point something, obviously a pint glass, is heard to drop to the hangar floor and he asks if someone dropped their “keys” – although sadly the video misses most of his slides.

There are fascinating Anglo-American conflicts, stick-rudder-and-arsehole heroism, and some interesting historical discoveries (why was he trying to land a Mosquito on a carrier in the first place? there was a “Dambusters-like” mission planned for somewhere in Japan). He also mentions some career advice, offered by Ernst Udet: become a fighter pilot and speak German. Well, it worked for him.

He doesn’t, sadly, talk much about his years in post-war West Germany, although he played a major role in refounding the German navy’s air arm and the German aircraft industry. Somebody should get him to speak to school kids who might learn German, before it’s too late. Anyway, the video is here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.