RIP Wing Commander Ken Wallis

Ken Wallis, WWII bomber pilot, Engineer, designer, builder and James Bond's stand-in pilot of the autogyro 'Little Nellie' in 'You Only Live Twice' and all round good guy died last Sunday aged 97.

I had the pleasure of meeting Ken twice once when he gave a slide-show lecture of his exploits (it was scheduled for two hours, lasted almost three and everybody present would have been more than happy to listened for a further hour... or two!) and once at his home in Reymerston where we were shown round his workshops and museum.
He was an engineering genius. He built and flew a replica of the Walbro monoplane which was the first all-British aircraft. It was constructed of steel tubing and designed and built by his father and uncle well before WWI. It's preserved in the Norfolk and Suffolk Aviation Museum.


He invented slot-car racing but was royally screwed by his partner who sold ken's idea to Scalextric. His original layout and cars were in his museum.


During WWII he flew Wellington bombers and proudly wore a Golden Caterpillar tie pin awarded to anyone who successfully baled out from a doomed aircraft using an Irvine parachute.

Here am I with ken, aged 94, at his home...

Ken with me.jpg

...and here he's taxiing in after demonstrating one of his many autogyros.

View attachment Taxiing in.jpg

Condolences to his family - he was a great guy!
A real character and a gentleman. I saw him once back in 1983 on a 5 Brigade exercise at RAF Waddon (?) near STANTA. The Bde was training for OOA ops and a Para bn had dropped onto the airfield to secure it for an evacuation of UK nationals from some hostile country.

For some reason Ken Wallis had been invited to tip up and demonstrate his autogyro to the Bde HQ staff officers. I think someone had the idea they could be used for immediate area recce jobs or similar. Anyway, we had an entertaining hour watching him flying around the airfield and landing/taking off in small spaces. To demonstrate the STOL ability he took off and landed across the width of the runway rather than along it.

I guess he wasn't able to sell the idea to the powers that were at the time, but everyone who met him spoke very highly of him.

Another great British eccentric and gentleman gone. RIP.

I've never met the guy, but seem him a few times being interviewed on TV over the years. Came across as a very interesting and affable chap.

RIP fella.
Hero of mine since a small lad. A great British character and engineer. RIP.

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