A&S Interview: Captain Eric Brown
Holder of the Guinness World Record for most types of aircraft flown.
- By Rebecca Maksel
- Air & Space magazine, July 2009
Courtesy Simon Blacker
(Page 3 of 3)
Air & Space: You were sent to Liverpool to collect a new Sikorsky R-4B helicopter. You hadn’t seen a helicopter at that time.
Brown: That’s correct. I had seen pictures of Mr. Sikorsky sitting with his hat on in the VS-300, I think it was. And when I realized that I hadn’t got an instructor, I realized that it was up to me to read the handbook. I thought, well, Mr. Sikorsky did it, and he’s older than I am, why can’t I do it? What I hadn’t realized, of course, was that when Mr. Sikorsky did it first, he was in a tethered aircraft. And here was I in a free aircraft. And believe you me, I used every inch of that airfield, because the major problem one has in starting to fly helicopters is learning to hover. You don’t realize, if you’ve been used to flying airplanes, that the controlled movements you make must be minimized quite radically in flying a helicopter. You need very tiny, controlled movements.
There were two of us sent up to collect these [R-4B helicopters], and we were reading the handbook the night before we were going to venture into the air. And the other fellow was looking rather gloomy as he looked at this. And he suddenly turned to me and said, “Do you know, this is like reading your own obituary.” I tell you, it felt a bit that way the next day, too.
Air & Space: After reading that story in your book, I was amazed to learn that you went on to work in civil helicopter operations.
Brown: Some very strange quirks of fate occur in life. As long as you can survive, there’s always something new waiting around the corner.