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Summary

The autobiography of one of the greatest pilots in history.

In 1939 Eric Brown was on a University of Edinburgh exchange course in Germany, and the first he knew of the war was when the Gestapo came to arrest him. They released him, not realising he was a pilot in the RAF volunteer reserve - and the rest is history.

Eric Brown joined the Fleet Air Arm and went on to be the greatest test pilot in history, flying more different aircraft types than anyone else. During his lifetime he made a record-breaking 2,407 aircraft carrier landings and survived 11 plane crashes.

One of Britain's few German-speaking airmen, he went to Germany in 1945 to test the Nazi jets, interviewing (among others) Hermann Goering and Hanna Reitsch. He flew the suicidally dangerous Me 163 rocket plane and tested the first British jets.

Wings on My Sleeve is 'Winkle' Brown's incredible story.

©2006 Eric Brown (P)2016 Orion Publishing Group

What listeners say about Wings on My Sleeve

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A great read!

I found this a real turner. The story of a truly unique flying career, never to be repeated.

5 people found this helpful

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An incredible story from start to finish

If this were a work of fiction you'd say it was far fetched. Eric Brown was present at so many aviation milestones and saw so much in his long life. He had so many lucky escapes I'm beginning to think it was divine intervention as well as skill and luck that saved him. I met him once and he was a perfect gentleman. His book is gripping throughout and gives an incredible insight into wartime and post-war aviation development.

3 people found this helpful

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This excellent memoir is his only underachiement.

Spectacular in his place in time ,a flight introduction with Udet in pre ww2 Germany.The low health and safety of the birth of the jet age . His obvious gifts as a naturally outstanding pilot the book leaves a nagging doubt ,that with better advise and a little teasing in interview, you could be reading an absolute barn stormer.
The remarkable achievements of this man in aviation are beyond comparison by a clear distance.... worth the price to hear his opinions on virtually all the machines flown in ww2 by all sides.
Just can't help thinking there was so much more in entertainment to winkle out of the Winkle.

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Strangely Dull

For someone who had such an amazing career, Capt Brown managed to make his autobiography very emotionless and more a list of dates and events, than the fascinating story one would expect. The narration was okay, given the lack of emotion in the words written,but my overall experience is best summed up in the title of this review

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there must be a good story hidden here but not this book

i think the author was a far better pilot than story teller and someone should have ghost written the autobiography or a biography for him . A man with such a good story to tell should have a better record of his achievements . There is little context no back story just a long list of planes he flew which starts to become dull despite the amazing subject - someone please re write this mans life story and do him justice .

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A Remarkable Man and Incredible Pilot

A very interesting account of the life of a remarkable man and incredible pilot. It is mind boggling how many aircraft types and helicopters he flew. His skill , daring and enthusiasm are to be admired and his award of a CBE was well deserved.

The narration was very good, being clear and well paced.

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What a remarkable career

Really enjoyable story of a remarkable career. Quite humbling, and yet not at all boastful. Very interesting to hear about the German experimental aircraft from the end of WWll

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An exceptional story

The story of an incredible man that covers a vast range of aviation situations and aircraft types. I can never understand why Winkle Brown is not better known for his record breaking achievements.

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amazing tale of an amazing man

A beautifully written and narrated tale of a truly amazing human being, a world record holder and also the master of understated self efacing modesty.
brilliant, fascinating and riveting, it should have been 4 times as long!!

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The incredible autobiography of a flying legend.

If ever there was a life fully lived it was Eric 'Winkle' Brown's. When the 'Desert Island Discs' radio show wanted someone special for their 3,000th. edition, they wisely chose Eric, whom I was privileged to meet at Boscombe Down. He is credited with having flown more types of aircraft than any other pilot (487) and with 2,271 carrier deck landings. He met the German First World War ace Ernst Udet and the famous German aviatrix, Hanna Reisch in the 1930s, released from SS custody and return to UK and joined tge Fleet Air Arm. He flew Martlet fighters from HMS Audacity, the first Escort carrier converted from a merchant ship and was rescued from the sea following her sinking.

However, it is in the field of test flying that Eric was most prominent. As a pilot in Aero Flight at RAE Farnborough and later, its CO, he flew many experimetal aircraft and made the first landing of a twin-engined aircraft on a carrier and also the landing by a jet aircraft. He also flew captured German aeroplanes. He later went to Postwar Germany to collect many of their cutting-edge machines and during one visit was present at the relief of Belsen Concentation cap. He also interrogated Hermann Goring. Afterwards he helped set up the new German Naval Air Arm and held many prestigious positions in the Royal Navy.

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  • Jean
  • 05-07-16

Fascinating memoir

Captain Eric Brown died 21 February 2016 at the age of 97 in Surry, England. Brown was born in Leth, Scotland in 1919. This renewed the interest in his memoir and various biographies about Brown. This memoir was originally published in 1961. It has recently been reprinted but also is now an e-book and audiobook.

The book starts in 1939 when Brown was on an exchange course in German from the University of Edinburgh. The Gestapo escorted him from Germany stating the two counties were now at war. Brown briefly covers his early life but most of the book is about his flying career. Brown was the most decorated flyer of WWII in RN history. He is the only man to have flown every type of plane flown or experimented with during WWII not only British but planes from the United States, Italy, Japan and Germany. Brown had more carrier take offs and landings than any other RN pilot. Early in the War he was stationed aboard the carrier HMS Audacity. During the war he was moved from flying combat missions to that of a test pilot. He tested the early British jets and even flew the Nazi jets. After the War he interviewed many Nazi leaders including Hermann Goering and Hanna Reitsch.

I particularly enjoyed the section where he crashed his plane in front of Winston S. Churchill. Earlier Churchill learned to fly planes and survived a crash after which Clementine suggested he stop flying planes. Brown also tells about uncovering a neo-Nazi ring in the 1950’s. During the Korean War Brown flew Panther’s off the carrier HMS Peruses. Brown served in the Royal Navy from 1939 to 1970.

The book is well written and understated in the true English fashion. The book also had a quite understated humor to it. I found the memoir absolutely fascinating and I learned so much more about the air war during WWII but also the various types of planes. If you are interested in airplanes and WWII you will find this a must read book. Cameron Stewart did a good job narrating the book. Stewart is an American film and Television actor who also narrates audiobooks.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Airogue
  • 23-01-18

a delight to listen

I'm sure my love and passion for Aviation influences my opinion on this book however one cannot deny the fact that this man LED an incredible Life by any measure. he's like a real life Forrest Gump in who he has met and what he has influenced. I like this book so much that I bought the paper version as well.

I found if anything this book could have gone even deeper into detail on many topics and it would have been enjoy the same.

like nearly every book I listen to I did find I was comfortable listening at 1.2 speed. at those slightly increase speeds nearly all the books I've listened to sound more like conversation versus a lecture.

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  • Erl Gould Purnell
  • 03-06-17

Best of the Best

Winkle Brown is simply the very best test pilot E V E R. This book chronicles his long career in the Royal Navy and is truly exceptional. The details about specific flights in props, jets, multiengine, helicopters and gliders (including over 50 German WWII planes) is mind boggling. That he didn't get killed is amazing in and of itself but, then, he was Winkle Brown. What this single individual brought to RN aviation cannot be overstated—test flying myriad aircraft, developing landing techniques including the first jet aboard a carrier, exchange programs with the US and Germany, etc. Moreover, Brown was a liaison to Germany and helped bring the German Navy into NATO. Extraordinary. Not only is his story ever-so good but he's written it in a really engaging tone and voice. If you're interested in cutting edge flying, a terrifically talented and courageous aviator and history that can never be replicated, read or listen to "Wings On My Sleeve."