Norfolk and Norwich Group of Advanced Motorists

Wing Commander K. H. Wallis

MBE DEng(hc) CEng FRAeS FSETP PhD.(hc) RAF (Ret'd)

The Man

Wing Commander Ken Wallis's interested in aviation probably stems from his family. His father and uncle built an aeroplane as long ago as 1908 with the intention of winning the £1,000 prize, put up by the Daily Mail, for the first powered flight from England to France. Unfortunately, Louis Bleriot beat them to it by completing the flight in July 1909. Sadly their aircraft, "Wallbro", was destroyed in a gale when the hanger in which it was stored blew down. In 1973 Ken and his cousin Geoffrey decided to build a replica of the "Wallbro". With no drawings to work from Ken proceeded to build the aircraft by scaling measurements from photographs taken of the original in 1909. In August 1978 he successfully flew the aircraft at Swanton Morley.

Ken Wallis joined the RAF at Uxbridge in 1938 having previously learnt to fly on a de Havilland Gypsy Moth. After having to wait until a training place was available he joined 15 Training School at Kidlington. In December 1940 Ken was posted to No.1 School of Army Co-operation and flew the Westland Lysander. June 1941 saw him transferred to No. 103 Squadron Bomber Command where he flew operations with the Vickers Wellington, (designed by Barnes Wallis - not related). Ken completed two tours of operations, the second one being in Italy.
After the war in 1945 Ken took up a post in the Armament Design Establishment at Enfield and later became a Senior Armaments Officer at RAF Binbrook.
In 1956 Ken Wallis went on a two-year exchange posting to the Armament/Electronics Division at Headquarters, Strategic Air Command, USAF in Nabraska, USA. Holding a flying/technical appointment he piloted the giant ten-engined RB-36H bomber which carried an A-Bomb.
Having previously started building and flying his autogyros Ken finally left the RAF in 1964 to devote his full resources to developing and demonstrating them.

The Machines

'Little Nellie', as seen in the James Bond film "You Only Live Twice", was one of three military Type WA- 116 built in 1962. One of these, XR-944, in updated form, remains in camouflage, taking part in military exercises.

'Little Nellie' is not the only film star, the Wallis -116 prototype having starred in a Dick Smart film, while the WA-116 -T two seater was flown by him in 'The Martian Chronicles'.

The Wallis Autogyros have held, for the UK, all 20 official World Records for autogyro speed, time to climb, altitude, range and duration. The records are held in the Any Autogyro Class E-3 and Autogyros Under 500 kgs Class E-3A. Further World Record flights are planned.

Other Wallis autogyros are operated as workhorses, by day and night, mostly in specialised remote sensing military and civil roles. A specially silenced Type WA-117 has been used in the Loch Ness Investigation and on special photography in Saudi Arabia. A Type WA - 120, fitted with a multi-band photographic pack of four cameras, illustrated exploration of the surface of the Earth in the Exploration Exhibition at the Science Museum. The little aircraft have been operated at sea from Naval patrol craft too small to carry a helicopter.

Wing Commander Wallis is a truly remarkable man. He is a gifted and innovative engineer, pilot and modeller. At 11 years of age he built his first motorcycle and went on to build and race boats and build Austin and Bentley 'Specials'. This culmiminated in the Rolls Royce 'Special', "The Long Dog" which he took with him on his posting to the USA in 1956.
Ken Wallis is a gentleman of the first order who was married to his lovely wife Peggy for over sixty years. He is a fascinating speaker who holds the attention of his audience. Ken is still very active and always has a busy calendar of engagements. He is at his happiest when he is flying one of his 'Girls'; the name which he gives his autogyros.

To find out more about Wing Commander Ken Wallis read Ian Hancock's excellent book :

'The Lives of Ken Wallis'
by Ian Hancock

obtainable from
The Norfolk & Suffolk Aviation Museum
The Street
Nr. Bungay
NR35 1NZ

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