Suffolk: Tribute paid to aviation society vice president, Ken Wallis, who has died at 97

Wing Commander Ken Wallis.

Wing Commander Ken Wallis. - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2010

A pilot who was used as a stunt double in a James Bond film sequence and cheated death on a number of missions into occupied Europe has died at the age of 97.

Described as a “super guy and a real gentleman”, tributes have now been paid to Wing Commander Ken Wallis, a vice-president of the Martlesham Heath Aviation Society, who died on Sunday.

Wing Cdr Wallis, who lived in Reymerston, near Dereham, took on his role at the society in 2003 and he was regularly seen at the society’s annual open day.

Martyn Cook, chairman of the society, was among those to pay tribute.

He said: “He was a real gentleman and he very graciously agreed to be a vice-president of our society and he was proud to be associated with us.

“He was always up for coming to help us and do what he could to promote our society.

“He really was a super guy and it is a great loss to aviation. He was certainly a legend in his own lifetime.” The great-grandfather spent 20 years working in armaments and weapons research, flew nuclear-armed B36s for the United States Air Force and was credited with a key discovery which made autogyro aircraft more reliable.

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Between 1968 and 2002, Wing Cdr Wallis set 34 world records, many of which still stand, including the 3km speed record for autogyros, set at 207.7kph.

It was this passion which led to him featuring in the 1967 Bond film You Only Live Twice when he was asked to pilot an autogyro and double for Sean Connery in scenes shot in Japan.

He was made an MBE in 1996, and this summer he received his Bomber Command medal for his time in the 103 Squadron based at RAF Elsham Wolds, North Lincs, 71 years ago.

His eldest daughter Vicky said: “He had great long and successful life.”