Wing Commander Ken Wallis dies at the age of 97 - Post your tributes

Ken Wallis has died at the age of 97. Ken Wallis has died at the age of 97.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013
7:20 PM

One of Norfolk’s most remarkable men, Wing Commander Ken Wallis, has died at the age of 97.

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The former Wellington bomber pilot, who lived in Reymerston, near Dereham, was a key figure in the post-war development of the autogyro, which he flew as Sean Connery’s stunt double in the 1967 James Bond film You Only Live Twice.

Between 1968 and 2002 he set 34 world records for speed, circuit and altitude feats, many of which still stand – including the 129mph top speed recorded for a 3km flight in the tiny rotor-powered aircraft.

A look back at the life of Ken Wallis

Daughter describes her last words to Wing Commander Wallis

In July this year the great-grandfather, whose passion for planes led him to cheat in an eye test and fly every night to drop two tonnes of bombs on German targets, was finally awarded his Bomber Command medal - after a 71-year wait - for his time in the 103 Squadron based at RAF Elsham Wolds, in North Lincolnshire.

• From the archives:

Film charts life of Norfolk’s flying James Bond
Wing Cdr Ken Wallis, 97, finally gets his Bomber Command medal
Norfolk’s Ken Wallis aims for autogyro speed record

54 comments

  • A photo from our visit in 2011

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    John Sutton

    Wednesday, September 4, 2013

  • I had the great pleasure of meeting Ken several times in the last few years. I will always remember his endless fund of tales. RIP Sir.

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    Peter Walker

    Thursday, September 5, 2013

  • I knew him when I was a little boy. The autogyros were cool, but Ken also had the three smallest working guns in the world - another of his records. He was also a pioneer of small cameras during WW2, for which he had an entertaining trial process involving conversations with ladies in Hyde Park... An innovator, an aviator and an inspiration. Sad loss.

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    Timothy Barnes

    Wednesday, September 4, 2013

  • An inspiring gentleman. I had the pleasure of meeting him a couple of years back.

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    Philip Johnson

    Wednesday, September 4, 2013

  • He will be sadly missed by so many. He touched many peoples and was a great man to know.

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    Johnny Norfolk

    Wednesday, September 4, 2013

  • I can only add to the wealth of tributes and say that I remember the Wing Cmdr. doing his bit at airshows in the 60's right through to a few years ago. This man has fingers in so many pies; boats, cars, aeroplanes, autogyros, electric slot car racing (15 years before Scalextric), miniature guns and cameras.....the list is endless. A quite, unassuming hero who could have been a millionaire but who was simply Norfolk's Ken Wallis. I was given his book last year and it's fascinating. A true unsung hero and undervalued (by the powers that be) British gentleman. Blue Skies Skipper.

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    SteveM

    Friday, September 6, 2013

  • Such an impressive and interesting man, we'll be telling stories about his no-hands flying for many years.

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    Ronan Sprake

    Wednesday, September 4, 2013

  • These are the type of people we must never forget, we owe them so much RIP

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    Derek McDonald

    Wednesday, September 4, 2013

  • Privileged to have lived next door to Ken for 13 years. The sky will seem quiet and empty now. We will not see his like again. This mans death diminishes us all

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    Bernard Peard

    Tuesday, September 3, 2013

  • I seem to have known of this man for my entire life and I am 53 years of age! A true icon of our time .

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    SHOOK

    Tuesday, September 3, 2013

  • Sad to hear that Wing Commander Ken Wallis has passed away at the age of 97. A Dear friend who will be sadly missed by all those that knew him. Ken told me that he had the Honour of Serving in the HQ Strategic Air Command, Offutt AFB. Nebraska, And he flew the RB 36 with an "A" Bomb aboard. He also flew numerous missions in the second world war. Ken was a man of many talents and had just been awarded his Bomber Command Medal after a 71 year wait. Ken we wish you a great journey. (blue skies) A True Gentleman who will be sadly missed by all.

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    John Gilbert

    Wednesday, September 4, 2013

  • i met ken a few years ago at his home he was a very pleasant man and showed us his home the hall of fame his workshops and of not least his auto gyros he was a true officer and a gentleman and one of the few fly high ken god bless you brian &jean sadler

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    BRIAN SADLER

    Wednesday, September 4, 2013

  • Stand down brave hero your work is done , from sally and neil hunt

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    Sally Hunt

    Wednesday, September 4, 2013

  • Waking up to see tributes from teenagers is in itself a real tribute to Ken Wallis. I met him when we visited his home when I was in the air cadets a couple of years ago. Along with some of his incredible stories and autogyros, we were fortunate enough to have our own little air show with Ken. Seeing a 95 year old man flying low and fast above our heads, performing acrobatics and even taking his hands off the column to wave at us was truely something to behold. A friendly and warm man who has inspired for many decades. A true gent! RIP Ken Wallis

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    Michael Berry

    Wednesday, September 4, 2013

  • A goodgreat man, met him a couple of years ago, very genuine.

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    Marigold

    Tuesday, September 3, 2013

  • As chief coach at the norfolk hang and paragliding club i speak for all us in saying we feel the loss of a true friend to our club, a prop from one of his aircraft was gifted to us by him and turned into a trophy to be awarded annually to our best pilot , this trophy will be fought for now even harder Goodbye Ken Wallis ....aviator ,orator and hero to us We salute a great man

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    barry freeman

    Tuesday, September 3, 2013

  • A great man, have enjoyed many talks presented by Ken Wallis and it was a privalage to be able to visit his collection. He will be missed by all who knew him.

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    Dave Riley

    Wednesday, September 4, 2013

  • Sad news, but what a life he led.

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    KeithS

    Tuesday, September 3, 2013

  • R.I.P. Ken a truly great man that I once had the priviledge of meeting.

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    inactive user

    Wednesday, September 4, 2013

  • i met ken a few years ago at his home he was a very pleasant man and showed us his home the hall of fame his workshops and of not least his auto gyros he was a true officer and a gentleman and one of the few fly high ken god bless you brian &jean sadler

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    BRIAN SADLER

    Wednesday, September 4, 2013

  • I was fortunate enough to meet Ken Wallis on several occasions during the last 10 years. A true gentleman, your enthusiasm for all things aviation and joie de vivre will stay with me for many, many years. RIP Ken.

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    GaryT

    Tuesday, September 3, 2013

  • Never knew or met Wing Cdr. Wallis, but his actions and achievements speak for itself and raised respect in just about everyone. RIP and god speed for his last flight into the sun.

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    ingo wagenknecht

    Wednesday, September 4, 2013

  • Never met the gentleman but had known of his exploits in the war and of course with his development of the autogyro- salute to the gentleman and sincere condolences to his family

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    Martin Zuill

    Thursday, September 5, 2013

  • I only had the privilege to fly with Ken once - at an Army trial in Norfolk in the'80's - in his Rolls Royce powered two-seater: But spent many hours discussing aircraft design with him in the local at the time and later at Reymerston Hall. Brilliant, brilliant man with a deep insight into aviation, radical capability in design, and extreme capability as a pilot. He will be greatly missed... Roy Venton-Walters

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    Roy Venton-Walters

    Wednesday, September 4, 2013

  • What a true gentleman. Had a few chances to speak to him, he was so enthusiastic about flying, and very modest. He should have been knighted for a life devoted to aviation.

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    oddjob

    Tuesday, September 3, 2013

  • What a great man, Legend & Inspiration, he really deserved a Knighthood for his services to Aviation.....RIP Wg Cdr Ken Wallis, a true Officer and a Gentleman.....fly high Sir

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    Jim Tuddenham

    Wednesday, September 4, 2013

  • We met the Wing Commander several times at his house with several groups from The TR Register. What a wonderfull character of a man who will be sadly missed - will never forget his fly-past no hands or feet on the controls - wow. R.I.P

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    Ian Freeman

    Tuesday, September 3, 2013

  • What a great adventure, well done Commander!

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    Andy Fell

    Tuesday, September 3, 2013

  • A great and good gentleman of the sky. A brilliant pilot and engineer. We had the privilege of meeting Wing Commander Wallis and his tales and his passion for flying will always be remembered.

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    Alan Hancock

    Tuesday, September 3, 2013

  • In his early days with the Autogyros he lived at Coton (opp The American Cemetry) just outside Cambridge. I was one of several young local lads who was allowed to watch him work on & fly the Autogyros (including Little Nellie from the Bond Film) from his airstrip. He was an amazing, kind & pleaseant Gentleman. God Bless Wing Co. Ken - R I P. Thankyou for entertaing us with your flypasts.

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    Habbinman

    Tuesday, September 3, 2013

  • God Bless you Wing Commander Wallis. You were a Gentleman through and through. Although I never had the pleasure of meeting you I found your passion of flying wonderful.

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    J.R. Hartley

    Tuesday, September 3, 2013

  • A well respected and interesting person Sincere condolences Indeed per ardu Ex RAF Fire Service Crash Rescue

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    edifir

    Wednesday, September 4, 2013

  • so sad to hear this,i was lucky enough to meet ken at his home on two occasions,the second time I took my dad along too shortly before he died,he was able to speak to ken and look around his workshop,he never stopped talking about the wonderful time he'd had,and although he's been gone 18 months the pictures we took that day still hang on the wall beside his chair,my dad said it had been one of the best days of his life,rest in peace ken and thank you for the memories of that special day x x

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    jules

    Wednesday, September 4, 2013

  • What a loss to us on this side of the fence. He was working on breaking his own speed record and will be truly annoyed that something has got in his way. He always had a tenacity to overcome anything that got in his way so we had better keep an eye out for an evolution on wings. I hope there is a memorial service or perhaps a party serving full English breakfasts. I feel the world will attend.

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    Richard Noble

    Wednesday, September 4, 2013

  • An amazing and very pleasant man, who I was lucky enough to meet 3 or so years ago. A shame he has gone, but even he couldn't live forever. He will be missed

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    Windless

    Tuesday, September 3, 2013

  • What a great Norfolkman,will be sadly missed by many.I admired you as a young boy and watched you many times in the skies over the Dereham area.A lifes work well done.

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    lambo34

    Friday, September 6, 2013

  • How sad. But what a life. Spent a very entertaining morning with him as he showed off his collection and flew one (at 93). Subsequently lunched with him and he told us of his exploits firing ordnance into the then new jet engines just after the war. Fantastic.

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    Dave Smith

    Wednesday, September 4, 2013

  • Ken Wallis had a huge influence on my life. I first had the privilege of meeting him in 1972 when he offered me both encouragement and practical help with my first world ballooning record attempt. I was thinking of giving up and meeting him was a turning point. We always kept in contact afterwards. He flew in one of my balloons and I flew in one of his auto gyros, both taking off from Reymerston! An extraordinary and outstanding person who I am sure will be greatly missed by many, inside and outside the flying community.

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    Julian Nott

    Wednesday, September 4, 2013

  • I lived just a few houses away from Ken for a lot of years and often had good chats with him and also had him fly over our home waving as he went by :-) what a great man, although I moved a few years ago he was always a great friend and will be sadly missed. R.I.P. Wing Commander Ken Wallis

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    geezerfred

    Wednesday, September 4, 2013

  • One of our REAL BRITISH HEROES, fought for freedom and against nazi terrorism, cameronblair and co should all be ashamed that what this man and his colleagues fought for is being given away by these people who would not be alive today but for his and others like him heroism. He must have been in dispair at how the country is being run down and dictated to by the EU to whome we gave them back their freedom. RIP sir, i am old enough to appreciate all your sacrifices even though i wasn't born till 10 years after the end of the war there were still enough stories and memories around to show me and my generation what almost happened to us (and still might if the EU have their way)

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    stewart miller

    Tuesday, September 3, 2013

  • A great man engineer and friend, have enjoyed many hours with Ken over the years and it was a privilege to have known him. He will be sadly missed by all who knew him

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    Colin Tilson

    Wednesday, September 4, 2013

  • A wonderful Gentleman. Provided Chips Playscheme young persons entertainment with his Autogyros and demonstrations for over 30 years! Also taking photographs of Chippers from in the air. A most entertaining and selfless man. We will miss him.

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    trislubec

    Wednesday, September 4, 2013

  • A great man and a real gentleman. The country will miss him. He was an avid supporter of and fundraiser for the Royal Air Forces Association.

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    beverley

    Wednesday, September 4, 2013

  • Do not stand at my grave and weep, I am not there, I do not sleep, I am a thousand winds that blow. I am the diamond that glints in the snow. I am the gentle Autumn rain, When you awaken in the morning hush, I am the swift uplifting rush, of quiet birds in circled flight. I am the soft stars that shine at night. Do not stand at my grave and cry, I am not there I did not die. A Norfolkman privileged to have known you Ken, and a sad loss to mankind.

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    Spitfire Mk1

    Monday, September 9, 2013

  • Sad news. I first meet Wing Cmdr Wallis back in the early 1980's when he brought Little Nellie to the Barnham Broom Village Fete and later performed a fly pass. An amazing man.

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    CllrJohnCowan

    Tuesday, September 3, 2013

  • My sincere condolences. A truly great man and a legend in his own unique way.

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    Benjamin Lind

    Wednesday, September 4, 2013

  • A great man, A man who was always there,God Rest your Soul Commander Wallis

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    Albert Cooper

    Tuesday, September 3, 2013

  • My family and I had the honour to meet Ken on several occasions and will forever treasure the memory of this great man. He will be missed by many. Just a shame he never got to fulfil his ambition of another record. RIP

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    Birgit Gipp

    Thursday, September 5, 2013

  • Ken Wallis had a huge influence on my life. I first had the privilege of meeting him in 1972 when he offered me both encouragement and practical help with my first world ballooning record attempt. I was thinking of giving up and meeting him was a turning point. We always kept in contact afterwards. He flew in one of my balloons and I flew in one of his auto gyros, both taking off from Reymerston! An extraordinary and outstanding person who I am sure will be greatly missed by many, inside and outside the flying community.

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    Julian Nott

    Wednesday, September 4, 2013

  • A great man and a real gentleman. The country will miss him. He was an avid supporter of and fundraiser for the Royal Air Forces Association.

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    beverley

    Wednesday, September 4, 2013

  • I had the pleasure to fly in and visit WC Wallis in Aug 2011. What a great time! Fly high sir!

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    John Sutton

    Wednesday, September 4, 2013

  • I had the pleasure to fly in and visit WC Wallis in Aug 2011. What a great time! Fly high sir!

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    John Sutton

    Wednesday, September 4, 2013

  • hi, a friend of mine from Quebec Canada asked me to write a few words for him since he is french speaking, Martin being à giro lover and building one heard abour Mr Wallis à few years ago and bougth his book and read everything he could about co. Wallis , it was wih great sadness that he heard of the commandant passing away, he wants to express all his sympathy to his family and friends, bests regards from Martin Quebec Canada

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    ellie

    Thursday, September 5, 2013

  • Never met Ken but without him and his other hero friends makes me proud to be able to comment on such a wonderful man. Rest in Peace knowing you helped keep the world a free place to be. Deep Respect

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    Barry Voce

    Wednesday, September 4, 2013

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