Ken Wallis: Airfield celebrates life of pilot

Wing Commander Ken Wallis, inventor of the autogyro, died earlier this month at the age of 97

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A Norfolk airfield has celebrated the life of a stunt pilot, inventor and war veteran.

Wing Commander Ken Wallis, of Dereham, had developed the autogyro and flew as a James Bond stuntman in the film You Only Live Twice.

He died earlier this month at the age of 97.

Air displays and an exhibition in his honour was held at Old Buckenham Airfield, where Mr Wallis had been a life member.

The event included flypasts by the autogyro and other light aircraft.

Organisers expected about 500 people at the airfield but thousands turned out, including members of the Wallis family.

Born Ken Horatio Wallis in Ely in April 1916, he nurtured his love of speed from the age of 11, when he started helping at his father's motorcycle business.

Autogyro Autogyros flew over Old Buckenham on Sunday

He designed and raced powerboats as a teenager, progressing to sports cars and eventually aeroplanes, joining the Royal Air Force at the start of World War II.

He piloted 24 wartime missions over northern Europe in Wellington bombers, before spending 20 years engaged in weapons research in the RAF.

After leaving the RAF Mr Wallis combined his passion for photography and flight to help police in aerial reconnaissance, and was involved in the search for Lord Lucan.

Paying tribute to him earlier this month, biographer Ian Hancock said Mr Wallis "loved speed", was always fascinated with engines but also had a compassion for others.

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