James Bond stunt pilot Ken Wallis honoured

Wing Cdr Wallis still regularly flies autogyros from his Norfolk home

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A 96-year-old autogyro pilot from Norfolk, who flew as a James Bond stunt double, has been honoured for his lifetime contribution to aerospace.

Retired Wing Cdr Ken Wallis was given the award by the Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators (Gapan) on Tuesday.

The guild described the former bomber pilot as an "aviation inspiration" who had "simply done it all".

Mr Wallis said it was an "honour" to be recognised for his "professionalism" and "dedication in flying".

Born in Ely, Mr Wallis made his first solo flight at Cambridge in 1937 in a de Havilland Gipsy Moth.

He completed 24 wartime missions over northern Europe in Wellington bombers, before spending 20 years engaged in armament and weapon research in the Royal Air Force.

'Distinguished career'

A multi record-breaking pilot, Mr Wallis still holds the current record for level flight in a one-piston engine autogyro over 3km (1.8 miles) at 129mph (208kmh).

Speaking on his 96th birthday in April, he said it would be a "laugh" to better his record, set in 2002, and still plans to do so.

Ken Wallis (left) with guild master Air Marshall Cliff Spink Wing Cdr Wallis (left) was presented his award by Gapan guild master Air Marshall Cliff Spink

In 1967 he doubled as Sean Connery for the autogyro aerial sequence in the film You Only Live Twice.

Air Marshal Cliff Spink, Gapan's master of the guild, said: "Ken Wallis is simply an aviation inspiration.

"Not only for the longevity of his performance from becoming a pilot in 1937 and a distinguished career in the Royal Air Force, but also for his inventive prowess with his autogyro technology - he has quite simply done it all.

"The guild felt it was long overdue for Ken to receive our most senior award in recognition to all those years of contributions to aviation in the broadest possible sense."

Mr Wallis, president of the Norfolk and Suffolk Aviation Museum, keeps 18 autogyros at his Norfolk home, three of which are ready for flight.

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