Medals of Britain's greatest aviator to auction at Bonhams



2016-11-14 11:43:48

The medals awarded to Britain's greatest-ever aviator, Eric 'Winkle' Brown (1919-2016), are expected to sell at Bonhams this month for more than £150,000.

Throughout Brown's remarkable 30-year career he served as one of the world's leading test pilots, regularly risking his life during pioneering flights which helped push the boundaries of commercial and military aviation.

Brown flew a record 487 different aircraft during his lifetime, and gained experience in everything from bi-planes to rockets, including flying the world's first helicopters and every one of the Nazi experimental aircraft captured after WWII.

He also led the crash investigation into the mid-air disintegration of a De Havilland DH108 jet as it attempted to break the sound barrier in 1946. Brown came seconds away from death in attempting to recreate the accident, but succeeded in discovering the cause, and in doing so enabled the continued development of the Jet Age which changed the world forever.

(Images: Bonhams)

(Images: Bonhams)

Brown's collection of medals includes the medals to be sold include the 1942 Distinguished Service Cross, the 1947 Air Force Cross and the CBE, awarded in 1970. He remains the most-decorated pilot in the history of the Royal Navy.

The lot also features his flying log books from 1942 to his final flights for the Fleet Air Arm in 1970, along with log books spanning his work on flying boats and his civilian flying career.

Together, this historic testament to a giant of aviation history will be offered with an estimate of £150,000-£200,000 ($187,400-$250,000).

"Eric 'Winkle' Brown was an extraordinary man," said Bonhams Head of Medals and Coins, John Millensted. "The Royal Navy's most decorated flyer, he established records far beyond the reach of pilots today.

"He was regarded with awe by aviators of all kinds. The first man on the moon, Neil Armstrong was an admirer and friend and until his final years he was in great demand, not out of nostalgic respect, but because his vast experience never ceased to be of practical use."

The Bonhams Medals, Bonds, Banknotes and Coins Sale takes place in Knightsbridge, London on November 23.

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