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Tributes paid to world’s greatest pilot

Tributes have been paid to the world’s most decorated pilot, Captain Eric ‘Winkle’ Brown, who has died aged 97.

Captain Brown - a former languages student at the University - became the world record holder for flying the greatest number of different aircraft.

I was saddened to hear of Captain Brown's passing. He was a remarkable man and a great friend of the University, who always spoke very warmly of his time here. Only last year he thrilled an audience of all ages when he delivered our Mountbatten Lecture, which touched on his extraordinary life story. He will be greatly missed.

Professor Sir Timothy O’SheaPrincipal of the University of Edinburgh

Real life hero

During his studies Captain Brown took an exchange course in Germany, where the Gestapo arrested him in 1939. He later joined the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve.

He was one of only two men to survive an attack on HMS Audacity, which was torpedoed by a German U-boat in December 1941.

His aptitude for flight deck landings - acknowledged as one of the most difficult manoeuvres a pilot can make - led him to test aircraft carriers before they were brought into service.

He tested 487 aircrafts, including experimental Nazi jets, and for more than 65 years held the world record for most flight deck landings.

Honoured aviator

Captain Brown was one of the few pilots to receive the Distinguished Service Cross and the Air Force Cross for acts of courage throughout his career, as well as his numerous campaign medals.

He was also awarded an Honorary Degree from the University of Edinburgh in 2008.

Mountbatten Lecture

Captain Brown delivered the University’s 2015 Mountbatten Lecture, during which he discussed Britain’s defence in the near future.

Each year, an expert on defence-related matters is invited to speak to staff, students and the wider public.

Assistant Principal Susan Deacon introduced Captain Brown to an audience at the Playfair Library.

Captain Brown was truly one of the most remarkable and inspirational people I have ever met. As well as his involvement in so many significant past events, his knowledge and analysis of contemporary issues - not least defence - was second to none. I have a very special memory of him being surrounded by students, some of whom were training to be pilots, after the event. They were hanging on to his every word and he was utterly engaged with them. It was lovely. Modest, engaging and hugely knowledgeable - it was a real honour to be in his company.

Professor Susan DeaconAssistant Principal Corporate Engagement