Somerset

Capt Eric 'Winkle' Brown bust at Fleet Air Arm Museum

Capt Eric 'Winkle' Brown, RN
Image caption Capt Eric Brown flew 487 different types of aircraft, a world record that is unlikely ever to be matched

A bronze bust of the most decorated test pilot of all time has been unveiled at the Fleet Air Arm Museum in Yeovilton, Somerset.

Capt Eric "Winkle" Brown, 95, was the first person ever to land a jet on an aircraft carrier and holds the record for the most flight deck landings.

The former Royal Navy pilot, who has survived 11 crashes, said the honour was a "humbling experience".

The bust was unveiled by Desert Island Disc's presenter Kirsty Young.

Nicknamed "Winkle" - after the small mollusc "periwinkle" because of his height - Capt Brown is one of the only pilots who has the Distinguished Service Cross as well as the Air Force Cross.

Image copyright Imperial War Museum
Image caption Capt Brown flew 2,407 aircraft carrier landings and is one of the only pilots who has the Distinguished Service Cross as well as the Air Force Cross

Over his career, he flew 2,407 aircraft carrier landings and 487 different types of aircraft, a world record that is unlikely ever to be matched.

Today's test pilots average fewer than 100 flights, according to Rear Admiral Simon Charlier, former Commander of the Fleet Air Arm.

"Over 50 is deemed a large number," he said.

"We can't imagine in this day and age how dangerous his job was."

'Real life hero'

At the end of last year, he appeared on the 3,000th edition of Desert Island Discs, during which he was described by presenter Young as a "remarkable, dare-devil".

"When you read through his life story, it makes James Bond seem like a bit of a slacker," she said.

"He is a real life hero."

The bronze bust, created by sculptress Jenna Gearing, was funded by the Society of Friends of the Fleet Air Arm Museum.

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