December 7 2013 Latest news:
Saturday, September 28, 2013
The celebration of a legendary aviator’s life this weekend looks set to be an historic and unforgettable event.
Wing Commander Ken Wallis, the record-breaking autogyro pilot who flew as James Bond’s stunt double, died in Dereham earlier this month aged 97.
On Sunday, Old Buckenham Airfield will host a remarkable day bringing together aircraft, engineering, classic cars, boats and bikes as well as friends, family and fans of the inventor. A highlight of the day will be one of the wing commander’s best-known creations and the undisputed star of the James Bond film You Only Live Twice, Little Nellie, which will be on display in the Blister Hangar at the airfield.
Vicky Wallis, the wing commander’s daughter, said the day would be the public celebration of her father’s eclectic and awe-inspiring life.
Organisers said they had been overwhelmed by the interest in the day with record-breaking numbers of aircraft on the site.
Breckland Council waived normal restrictions on the airfield to allow autogyros for the day, and with 80 aircraft from all eras at the event, a number which has never been reached before, organisers said it would be an event like no other.
Matt Wilkins, airfield manager and organiser, said more than 500 visitors are expected to attend to pay tribute to the “extraordinary man”.
“This is the first time we have booked out all the aviation spots before the event,” he said.
“It looks to be the most diverse collection of aircraft in 70 years and an event that Ken would have loved.”
“He really was a national treasure and a true legend, and Sunday will be an unrepeatable event which will go down in history.”
Just two months ago, Wing Commander Wallis received a medal for his time in Bomber Command, something he and his family had fought hard for.
Wing Commander Gerry Honey, a friend of Wing Commander Wallis, will pay tribute to the aviator from about 12pm. He will be joined by Julian Nott, a British balloonist, and Henry Labouchere.
As well as the exhibits, various charities will have displays around the airfield. Visitors will also be invited to fill out tribute cards that will form a permanent record and exhibit to be displayed in the future.
The event starts at 10am and is open to everyone. There is no charge for entry.
The airfield has made arrangements for additional parking to cope with the extra numbers anticipated and they no longer need members of the public coming by modern car to book in.