A fitting tribute: Statue unveiled in honour of one of the world's greatest ever pilots

A statue to honour one of the world’s greatest ever pilots Captain Eric ‘Winkle’ Brown has been unveiled at Edinburgh Airport.

Eric winkle brown statue
The Eric Winkle Brown statue has been unveiled at Edinburgh Airport

Born in Leith in 1919, Eric went on to become a British Royal Navy officer after training at RAF Turnhouse, now Edinburgh Airport, in the late 1930s. A highly decorated pilot, his records include flying more types of aircraft than any other pilot in history at 487, including biplanes and helicopters to supersonic jets and the world record for landings on aircraft carriers at 2,407. Captain Brown also had the world record for take-offs on aircraft carriers at 2,721 was also responsible for test flying a captured German aircraft in the Second World War.

The tribute was unveiled His Royal Highness The Duke of York, who served as a pilot in the Royal Navy for almost 20 years and now holds the rank of Vice Admiral, accompanied by Lord Lieutenant and Lord Provost Frank Ross. Former pilots from the Edinburgh University Air Squadron raised the funds for the life-sized bronze statue which was designed by Scottish sculptor David Annand. 

Lord Lieutenant Frank Ross said: “As one of the Royal Navy's most decorated fliers, Eric ‘Winkle’ Brown will go down in the history books as one of the most significant pilots to fly the skies. One of only two men to survive the sinking of HMS Audacity in 1941, he went on to complete more than 2,400 aircraft carrier landings and knew how to fly almost 500 types of plane. His aeronautical feats were truly incredible. This new statue cements our pride in Eric’s Edinburgh roots, and will be seen by thousands of people from all over the world in its position at Edinburgh Airport.”

Sir John Elvidge, chairman of Edinburgh Airport said: “Captain Eric ‘Winkle’ Brown is a someone who is synonymous with RAF Turnhouse, and in turn a key figure in the history of what is now Edinburgh Airport. His achievements speak for themselves and the fact his remarkable career is still held in such high regard after all these years is testament to the man himself. We are proud of the connection between Edinburgh Airport and the RAF and we want people to share that by learning about this truly inspiring man who served his country with great honour, and this statue is a small token of thanks to him and his legacy.”

Dr Hamish Macleod is Chairman of Edinburgh University Air Squadron who raised the funds for the statue. The squadron also want to put a scholarship in place to allow youngsters from disadvantaged backgrounds to access light aircraft flying. Dr Macleod 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. The 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 assisting them to learn to fly, or simply experiencing the thrill of flying in small aircraft.”

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