‘Winkle’ Brown memorial unveiled at Edinburgh
Former pilots of the Edinburgh University Air Squadron are seeking to raise funds of £100,000 to commemorate Eric ‘Winkle’ Brown, who was raised in the Scottish Borders, schooled at Edinburgh’s Royal High School, studied German at Edinburgh University and in the late 1930s trained to fly at what was then RAF Turnhouse, now Edinburgh Airport.
With the financial support of many former UAS members, individuals and corporate donors, and assistance from Edinburgh Airport Limited, the first phase of the project, the installation of a life-size bronze statue of ‘Winkle’ on the Plaza to the airport’s east entrance, has now been completed and was unveiled by His Royal Highness Prince Andrew (himself a former naval aviator) on 2 July. An honour guard was provided by student pilots from the East of Scotland UAS and a contingent of Naval Cadets.
The life-size statue, by Scottish sculptor David Annand, depicts ‘Winkle’ as a young pilot in 1930s-style flying gear striding towards his aircraft. ‘The ongoing second phase is to raise significant funds for Winkle Brown Flying Scholarships to enable some of today’s youngsters, including those who are from disadvantaged backgrounds, to experience the life enhancing benefits of flying in light aircraft,’ the UAS’S fundraisers say.
Modest in stature (which earned him his nickname), but huge in achievement, when war was declared in 1939 Eric Brown joined the Royal Navy as a Fleet Air Arm pilot. During wartime service, and as a post-war test pilot, he flew more types of aircraft than any other pilot in history: 487, ranging from 1930s biplanes, to helicopters and supersonic jets, and he test-flew many captured Luftwaffe aircraft, including the infamous rocket-powered Messerschmitt Me 163 Komet. He held, and posthumously is likely always to hold, the world record for making the greatest number of carrier deck landings – 2,407.
Hamish Macleod, Chairman of Edinburgh UAS Association said: “Winkle was not only a man who loved to fly, but he also inspired a generation of pilots with his modest good humour and outstanding courage. This statue of him outside Edinburgh Airport will give the many thousands of passengers the opportunity to reflect on this Scottish hero who can inspire us all. Winkle’s legacy can also bring a life-changing experience to today’s youngsters by assisting them to learn to fly, or simply experiencing the thrill of flying in small aircraft.
“Anyone interested in helping some of today’s youngsters to take off into life- enhancing flying experiences and possible careers in aviation, or to stimulate interest in STEM subjects, can find out more about Winkle Brown, including watching a video at the Eric Winkle Brown page of the Edinburgh University Air Squadron website (edinburghuas.com/ winkle-memorial). Then, if you wish, please make a contribution to his memory.”
ABOVE: seen here with HRH Prince Andrew, the life-size bronze is the first stage of a project to raise money to train disadvantaged youngsters to fly