Buckingham Covers - First Day Covers

Centenary of the Birth of Eric 'Winkle' Brown

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  • Centenary of the Birth of Eric Winkle Brown
  • Featuring an image of a De Havilland Sea Vampire
  • With a 50 pence Machin stamp
  • And a 199 Gallantry stamp
  • And a Leith, Edinburgh postmark (21st January, 2019)


Issue Date: 21/01/2019

Issue Name: Centenary of the Birth of Eric 'Winkle' Brown

Producer: Buckingham Covers


The first cover in our brand new flight series sees us kick off with a cover commemorating the centenary of the birth of Eric 'Winkle' Brown. Captain Eric 'Winkle' Brown was a Royal Navy Officer and test pilot. Our stunning cover features an image of a De Havilland Sea Vampire Mk.10 taking off from the Royal Navy aircraft carrier 'HMS Ocean' on 3rd December, 1945. The plane was flown by Captain Eric 'Winkle' Brown and was the first landing and take off of a jet airplane from an aircraft carrier. The plane had been converted for carrier trials.


  • Centenary of the Birth of Eric Winkle Brown
  • Featuring an image of a De Havilland Sea Vampire
  • With a 50 pence Machin stamp
  • And a 199 Gallantry stamp
  • And a Leith, Edinburgh postmark (21st January, 2019)


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Captain Eric 'Winkle' Brown

Captain Eric Melrose “Winkle” Brown, CBE, DSC, AFC was a Royal Navy officer and test pilot. During his career he flew more types of aircraft than anyone else in history. The most decorated pilot in the history of the Royal Navy, he holds the world record for the most aircraft carrier landings, 2,407.

Born on 21 January 1919, in Leith he first flew when he was about 18, following a meeting with former World War I fighter ace Ernst Udet. Udet and Brown shared a love of flying, and after taking Brown flying in a two-seater Bucker Jungmann, Udet convinced Brown he needed to learn how to fly.

Brown received his first formal flying instruction whilst studying at the University of Edinburgh, as part of the Universities air unit. He was selected to take part as an exchange student at Salem International College in Germany. The outbreak of World War II however, lead to Brown being arrested by the SS. After three days he was escorted to the Swiss border and released. 

Back in England, he joined the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve as a Fleet Air Arm pilot, where he was posted to 802 Squadron. He received the Distinguished Service Cross for “bravery and skill in action against Enemy aircraft and in the protection of a Convoy against heavy sustained Enemy attacks” having been one of only two survivors of the sinking of the HMS Audacity.

Brown resumed operational flying and was posted to the Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE) at Farnborough. During his first month he flew 13 different types of aircraft, including a captured Focke-Wulf Fw 190. His aptitude for deck landings led to his posting for the testing of carrier landing arrangements before they were brought into service. As Chief Naval Test Pilot, Brown landed a Sea Mosquito on HMS Implacable, the heaviest aircraft to be flown from a British carrier at the time. By 1943 he had performed around 1,500 deck landings. 

Following the end of the war, Brown headed the Enemy Aircraft Flight, an elite group of pilots who tested captured German aircraft. Fluent in German, he also helped interview many Germans after WWII, including Wernher von Braun and Herman Göring.

In 1948, he received the Boyd Trophy for his work trialling the rubber deck landing system. He is responsible for two aviation firsts; the first carrier landing using an aircraft equipped with a tricycle undercarriage, and the world’s first landing of a jet aircraft on an aircraft carrier. He flew aircraft from Britain, the United States, Germany, Italy and Japan and is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as holding the record for flying the greatest number of different aircraft. The official record is 487, but Captain Brown flew several versions of the Spitfire and Seafire and although these are very different they only appear once in the list. Due to the circumstances of his achievements, it is unlikely that this record will ever be beaten.


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