When I saw a piece in the Daily Mail yesterday about Ken Wallis, it gave me a lift. Wing Commander Ken Wallis MBE ,94 years of age, really does epitomise our site strapline: [he is] defined less by age, more by attitude. This hero-adventurer-inventor is one to count age merely as a number. He has been a flyer since 1936, was a WW11 hero ,and served in the RAF until 1964. Totally self taught in engineering he still makes and flies autogyros, those frail looking flying bob sleigh-like constuctions with tubular frame attached and two propellers, one at the back, the other on top. At his home in Norfolk, he has a number of these flying machines which can comfortably fly at 120 mph.
Apparently,Ken who holds a number of flying records has his sights on exceeding his speed record of 129 mph, and achieving 140 to 150 mph. He is finding that while his abilities know no bounds the Civil Aviation Authority may ground in red tape his proposed attempts on his speed records- the CAA have slapped a legal 70 mph speed limit on autogyros. Ken is not impressed!
It was Ken who, in 1967, was asked to build and fly one of his gyrocopters for the film sequences in the the James Bond film :’You Only Live Twice’. It was he who in his flying machine dubbed ‘Little Nellie’ acted as stunt double for Sean Connery. Though he did not appear in the film credits, he did have a great time travelling around to different countries in film promotions. ‘Little Nellie’ has pride of place with Ken’s other machines which are housed in his large hangar workshop at home. You can catch more about Ken and his achievements (including a great YouTube clip to watch) at http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1289662/A-magnificent-man-DIY-flying-machine-Wing-Commander-94-trying-hit-130mph-shed-built-gyrocopter.html