Captain Eric Brown

I have to admit that some of the guests on DID are unknown to me before I have heard their interview. And then Kirsty introduces them and I think “OK, this could be interesting” and it nearly always is. One of the interviews that I listened to that I thought was fascinating was Captain Eric “Winkle” Brown – a Royal Navy test pilot who was the guest on the 3000th edition in 2014.

Clearly being the 3000th guest is a huge honour and having listened to Captain Brown’s DID I really couldn’t think of anyone who would be more fascinating or worthy of the honour. He is one of the greatest test pilots of all time and holds the record for the highest number of flight-deck landings. But listening to his narrative he tells of being involved in helping to liberate Belsen and, as a fluent German speaker, interrogating leading Nazis including Hermann Goering amongst others.

Kirsty, describing her castaway’s life as “a handbook in beating the odds”, added: “Talking to him about his remarkable, daredevil life was like touching history.”

In June 2014 he was the subject of the hour-long BBC Two documentary Britain’s Greatest Pilot: The Extraordinary Story of Captain Winkle Brown. Assessing those achievements, Mark Bowman, chief test pilot at BAE Systems, said, “They didn’t have the advantage of high-tech simulators. He just had to look at the aircraft and think what he was going to do with it”, adding that he would have been flying the aircraft with “the benefit of a slide rule, not a bank of computers as we have now.”