Red tape forces record breaking pensioner abroad
A 94-year-old World War Two veteran will have to go abroad to break his world speed record in an autogyro because of red tape in Britain.
Published: 7:30AM BST 11 Jun 2010
Former James Bond stuntman Ken Wallis, MBE, wants to reach a new break neck pace of 140mph over 3km in his amazing hand built twin propeller machine.
The retired RAF wing commander, who flew Little Nellie in the 1967 Bond film You Only Live Twice, set the world speed record in 2002 when his autogyro reached 129.1 mph.
He wants to attempt a new world aviation record this year to coincide with the centenary celebration of the first flight of the Walbro monoplane - a revolutionary aircraft designed and flown by his father Horace and Uncle Perry.
But new red tape introduced by the Civil Aviation Authority since 2002 now restricts autogyros to a maximum speed of just 70mph in Britain - half the speed Wing Commander Wallis wants to clock.
So he will be forced to travel to France or America to make the record attempt.
"I've held the world speed record for ages now but I'd just like to push it a bit further," he said.
"I am still waiting for the paper work to come through, but the Civil Aviation Authority is very negative.
"I think the only way I can do it without messing around is to travel to France or America.
"The Americans would welcome me over there. They have said they will be pleased to have the aircraft transferred there."
Wing Cmdr Wallis started flying autogyros in 1959 and was the first instructor and examiner for the flying machine. In 1975 he broke the record for the longest flight in an autogyro when he flew the length of Britain. He keeps a fleet of 20 autogyros, including a replica of Little Nellie, in a mini hangar at his home in Norfolk and still flies daily.
"They are one of the safest machines to fly because if the engine stops the roters keep turning, so it can be landed," he said.
"Unlike other aircraft it can fly in all sorts of conditions, even stormy weather.
"I used to fly to work every day on the south coast, now I tend to fly more locally."
Wing Cmdr Wallis, who has been a pilot for 73 years, was sent up in his autogyro to help with the search when Lord Lucan went missing and has also been on a mission to find the Loch Ness monster. But one of his most exciting experiences was as the stunt double for Sean Connery in You Only Live Twice, dodging bullets from helicopters in his heavily armoured aircraft.
"Sean Connery had to sit in the autogyro and put on the helmet, but then he had to get out and it was me who did the first take-off," he said.
"I had to do 81 flights and was in the air for more than 44 hours. It was hard work but fun when it was finished.
"The funny thing is I don't even get a mention in the credits."
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