Sunday 29 September 2013

Ken Wallis - A Celebration

To Old Buckenham Airfield for a celebration of the life of  Our Ken - Wing Commander Kenneth Horatio Wallis MBE, DEng (hc), Ph.D (hc), CEng, FRAeS, FSETP,  FlnsTA(hc), RAF (Ret'd) who died on September 1st 2013. 

Amongst the extraordinary feats in his life was getting an obituary in The Stage since he had worked as a stuntman doubling for Sean Connery in You Only Live Twice, where he did not just fly the autogyro but also built and modified it for filming.  

In an age of tarnished celebrity Ken Wallis was the real deal; a man who deserved to be famous for the valour of his life and his achievements.  Amongst those was a determination to go his own way but always making friends.  No matter how tired he might be, Wallis was  unfailingly polite and took care that every person he spoke to became a potential ally to aviation, engineering and innovation but always with a regard for the traditions which he knew his friends valued. 

He knew everybody and everybody knew him.  As a result, when Old Buckenham airfield - where he was member 007 -  suggested holding an appreciation day, the event snowballed. 

An estimated 500 cars attended  as spectators with about another 200 classic cars putting on a display of automotive engineering which spanned his lifetime.

At least 80 landing slots were booked for visiting aircraft which in the end became so numerous that the organizers had to ask them to come by car - they had run out of capacity to get everyone landed by the time the family wanted to make an address to the crowd of  around 2,000, filling the hangar and spilling out over the fields.

 In recognition of his development of the autogyro and all the stories he told about them, as many as possible flew in and lined up by Little Nellie's hangar.

We were blessed with a bright, warm and breezy day to give thanks for the life of Wing Commander Ken Wallis MBE.

News from other guests:  Eastern Daily Press,   Old Buckenham Blog Norwich Evening News


ageing man said...

Ken Wallis was an amazing man. It's funny how a complete stranger has the ability to impact your mind as a child we adventures of flying and dare doing and yet you had no idea who he was....then fast forwards 40 years or so and you are watching Look East [not the place you were as a 10yr old] and they run a feature on ken Wallis....and he was the man behind the gyrocopter.... We all have to go some time, and so it was Look East gave fine tribute to his passing. Seeing the report of all those who turned up at this weekends events, seems I was not the only 10 year boy imbued with flying adventures idealised by the great Ken Wallis.

dave ward said...

I was one of the 2000, and it was indeed an excellent day, and a fitting tribute to a wonderful man. I have visited his home at Reymerston Hall, spoken to him, seen him fly around his "garden" and come away amazed at his modesty and achievements. What a shame he didn't get to beat his own speed records - he was working on this until recently. We will not see his like again.

RIP Ken.

ageing man said...

DW - I am sorry I missed this event, albeit I was extremely busy elsewhere. But I think you are right we will never see his like again. We are sometimes touched by strangers and the adventures I have had in my head.... all thanks to Ken Wallis 007.