A war-time hero, Kenneth Wallis doubled for Sean Connery in the James Bond film You Only Live Twice (1967), flying an autogiro he had designed and built himself.
The scene in question involved Wallis singlehandedly shooting down a force of helicopters whose pilots had been ordered to kill Bond. Lasting seven minutes on the screen, the scene took 85 flights totalling 46 hours to film. Wallis travelled the world to promote the picture, but his name was omitted from the credits.
His family’s involvement in flight began in 1910 when his father and uncle built a monoplane two years after witnessing the Wright brothers’ first flight in France. Wallis joined the Royal Air Force after the outbreak of the Second World and flew Wellingtons in raids over occupied Europe. In all, he completed 28 hazardous bombing missions.
Much later, his autogiro, a tiny helicopter with twin propellers, was used in a wide variety of tasks. On the Sussex Downs, Wallis tried to locate Lord Lucan, who disappeared after his children’s nanny had been murdered, and joined a search for the Loch Ness monster. He also advised the designers of Concorde on how to reduce the noise of its engines.
Wing Commander Kenneth Wallis, who was born on April 26, 1916, in Ely, Cambridgeshire, died in Reymerston, near Dereham in Norfolk, on September 1, at the age of 97.