Ken Wallis: 007 Autogyro Pilot Dies At 97
A bomber pilot and James Bond stunt double has died at the age of 97.
Retired wing commander Ken Wallis, who lived in Dereham, Norfolk, was a former Wellington bomber pilot.
He was awarded a medal in July for his role in 103 Squadron's missions in World War Two after years of campaigning.
In later life the great-grandfather spent 20 years working in armament and weapon research, flew nuclear-armed B-36s for the US and was credited with a key discovery which made autogyro aircraft more reliable.
Between 1968 and 2002, Wg Cdr Wallis set 34 world records, many of which still stand today including the 3km speed record for autogyros - set at 207.7kph (129mph).
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.
The famous seven-minute scene, in which Bond is attacked by helicopter as he flies above a volcano in Japan, took 85 flights and 46 hours in the air to film.
He was made an MBE in 1996 and his "exceptional service and devotion to aviation" was honoured by the Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators last year.
Eldest daughter Vicky Wallis told the Eastern Daily Press: "He had great long and successful life.
"He died peacefully at 3am on Sunday and I was at his bedside.
"He led a wonderful life and I'm sure most of us could only hope to live for so long and to fill our time with so many experiences and achievements.
"He will be greatly missed by his family and more widely."
Speaking after he received his campaign medal earlier this year, Wg Cdr Wallis said men like him had been turned into "villains" because of Bomber Command chief, Arthur "Bomber" Harris' decision to carpet bomb German cities in a night-time offensive.
He said: "It's a bit late - and long overdue.
"There were 56,000 who were killed in Bomber Command and when we finished operations we thought we would get medals.
"They thought we were bombing these poor innocent Germans, but there was never a moment of pleasure when we did it."