Originally Posted by SimonCraig1
I'm looking for a pilot:
1. He was a bomber pilot but was better known as an aircraft designer.
2. He was rejected from flying service initially, for poor eyesight, but obtained his private pilots license and 'bluffed' his way though another aircrew medical.
3. The first aircraft he flew operationally had STOL capability, the aircraft he designed also had this feature.
4. He then moved onto fly twin engine bombers. Though he survived many missions he gained something of a reputation for being accident prone including crashing after being struck by lightning
5. One of the aircraft he designed stared in a 1960s movie. The aircraft was included after the set designer heard a radio interview of the pilot.
You know, I honestly can't remember if I actually met him or just heard him speak. But since we were in the same small part of the world at the same time, and I was then in the Air Force, I suppose either could have occured. Thanks; Ernie P.
Kenneth Horatio Wallis DSO MBE CEng FRAeS PhD RAF
(26 April 1916 – 1 September 2013) was a British
aviator, engineer, and inventor. During the Second World War
, Wallis served in the Royal Air Force
and flew 28 bomber missions over Germany; after the war, he moved on to research and development, before retiring in 1964. He later became one of the leading exponents of autogyros
and earned 34 world records, still holding eight of them at the time of his death in 2013.
Born on 26 April 1916 at Ely
, Wallis developed a practical interest in mechanics, building a motorcycle at the age of 11. In 1936, he was inspired by a demonstration by Henri Mignet
of his Mignet HM.14
Pou-du-Ciel ("Flying Flea"). Using only Mignet's book, Wallis gathered the materials required, and started to build his own Flying Flea. He abandoned construction because of widespread adverse publicity about fatal accidents that implied inadequate design of the type.
Wallis took an interest in powerboats which he kept up until 1957, when he won the 56-mile (90 km) long Missouri Marathon.
Wallis was keen to join the RAF, and applied for their Volunteer Reserve Service, but he was turned down due to a defective right eye. Consequently, he obtained a private flying licence which required only a certificate signed by his GP. Wallis obtained his A Licence for dual and solo flying in a record 12 hours. In 1938, Wallis tried to join the RAF again, this time with the newly formed RAF Short Service Commission Scheme, but again failed the eye test. In 1939, he was called up to RAF Uxbridge
, and again was sent for a medical. When it came to the eyesight test he managed to pass, as Wallis later recalled, "I did the first line with my good eye then they covered it up and asked me to read the bottom line with my bad eye, without them realising I just turned my head slightly so I could again see with my good eye – I passed it with Above Average Eye Sight!"
Wallis's military career started with Westland Lysander
patrols in the RAF. In 1942, he was transferred to RAF Bomber Command
, flying Wellingtons
. Wallis subsequently served in Italy
and on secondment to the US Strategic Air Command
, where he flew the massive Convair B-36
, that had six piston engines and four auxiliary jet engines. Thereafter, he was involved in research and development, and was awarded a number of patents on his inventions. Wallis left the RAF in 1964, retiring to Norfolk
Wallis produced autogyros for, in his own words, "reconnaissance, research & development, surveillance and military purposes", and his designs were not available for enthusiasts as he considered that although the design is simple it has to be built to the appropriate standards. His contribution to autogyro design included the "offset gimbal rotor head".
Wallis worked as Sean Connery
's stunt pilot in the 1967 James Bond
film You Only Live Twice
, where he flew one of his WA-116s
named Little Nellie.
Production was at Cambridge by "Wallis Autogyros Ltd." run by his cousin.[clarification needed
In 1970, Wallis provided camera footage from one of his autogyros in a search for the Loch Ness Monster
In 1970 it was announced that Airmark would produce his autogyro design with a certificate of airworthiness
(C of A), that being essential for commercial use of the autogyro. Expected price was around £3,000.
Between 2006 and 2009, Wallis took part in filming for Into the Wind
, a documentary by Steven Hatton featuring the experiences and memories of wartime members of Bomber Command. The film, released in 2012, features Wallis demonstrating several of his autogyro designs.
Wallis was the President of the Norfolk and Suffolk Aviation Museum
, and Patron of the Wolf Preservation Foundation
A 1:24 scale
plastic model kit of Wallis' WA-116 Little Nellie
autogyro as portrayed in the 1967 James Bond
film, You Only Live Twice
, was released by the Airfix