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Ken Wallis Autogyro Pioneer Dies At 97 49

First time accepted submitter gb7djk writes "Wing Commander Ken Wallis the developer and promoter of small autogyros died peacefully today 4th September, aged 97, at his home in Norfolk. Ken is mainly remembered for 'Little Nellie', the tooled up autogyro that took on some helicopters in the James Bond film You Only Live Twice. He made the breakthrough discovery of the offset rotor head that made autogyros stable as well as many other aviation inventions. More info here and a video of him flying one of his creations (at the age of 95)."
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Ken Wallis Autogyro Pioneer Dies At 97

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  • by houstonbofh ( 602064 ) on Wednesday September 04, 2013 @08:07PM (#44762047)
    I love the video of a 95 year old man hand cranking a prop with no safety guard. Rash behavior like that will kill you before you reach 100, I bet!
  • In the 1982 version of Annie, [wikipedia.org] Annie and Daddy Warbucks land an autogyro on the White House lawn. And, Doc Savage and his friends often used them, especially at night because they were so quiet, and could land on roofs and take off again.
    • by Misagon ( 1135 )

      ... and in Bob Kane's original Batman comics, first printed in Detective Comics #31 in 1939, Batman did not use a "batplate" or a "batcopter". He used a "batgyro" [wikipedia.org]. The first "batarang" was introduced in the same panel.

  • I do love the sandwich, but I still prefer the handmade ones.
  • A great man... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by PhantomHarlock ( 189617 ) on Wednesday September 04, 2013 @08:34PM (#44762187)

    ...without which we would not have the Bruce Spence character in The Road Warrior!

  • Good Memories (Score:5, Informative)

    by TrueSatan ( 1709878 ) on Wednesday September 04, 2013 @08:49PM (#44762269)
    I knew Ken when I worked at Weslake Developments in Rye, East Sussex, an engineering R&D company that designed and tested engines for the UK automotive and aviation industries (I was the firm's Costing Engineer at the time); he was one of the directors of the firm. He was always a calm and reasonable voice in often head debates over the future of the company. His accomplishments gave him a platform that got people to listen but it was his warmth and understanding, both of technical issues and the people involved, that made him so respected and such an asset to the company. His flair for the dramatic was never far away...he'd journey from Lydd Airport (principally owned by Richard Branson who knew Ken well) piloting a skeletal Autogyro, of his own design and that he had built, landing it in a field behind the business park where Weslake Developments was housed. I've many happy memories from that time and value them greatly...I'll surely miss him.
  • Is it pronounced - auto-jeer-oh, like the sandwich?
  • by CohibaVancouver ( 864662 ) on Thursday September 05, 2013 @12:20AM (#44763155)

    Tanaka: I have much curiosity, Bond-san. What is Little Nellie?
    OO7: Oh, she's a wonderful girl. Very small, quite fast. Can do anything. Just your type.
    Tanaka: A toy helicopter?
    Q: No, it's certainly not a toy! You'll see. We've made one or two improvements since you used her last. I'll give you the drill.
    Tanaka: This can only be for children! Don't use it, Bond-san. Take my helicopter instead!
    Q: Right. Now pay attention, OO7. Two machine guns, fixed.
    OO7: Synchronized to what?
    Q: 100 yards. We're using incendiaraies and high explosives. Two rocket launchers, forward-firing on either side.
    OO7: Fine.
    Q: Now, these fire heat-seeking air-to-air missiles. 60 a minute.
    OO7: Good.
    Q: Flame guns. Two of 'em. Firing astern.
    OO7: What range?
    Q: 80 yards. Two smoke ejectors next door to them. Aerial mines. Now remember, use them only when directly above target. That's about the lot, I think. You know the rest, don't you?
    OO7: Yes.
    Q: Cine camera.
    OO7: Tanaka, listen in on 410 megacycles.
    Tanaka: Good luck, Bond-san.
    OO7: I'll contact you when I get over the island.
    Tanaka: Okay.
    Aki: Be careful, Bond-san!
  • Discovered? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Forthan Red ( 820542 ) on Thursday September 05, 2013 @01:00AM (#44763267)
    The article says he made the "discovery of the offset rotor head". Was it lying in a field somewhere, and he tripped over it? Perhaps it was discovered growing on a tree in the Amazon Jungle? Or maybe the author is shortchanging Mr. Wallis by failing to use the correct word, "invented". Sadly, his invention not only made him no money, since he could not profit from patenting it (as he was in the RAF at the time, and any patent would belong to the crown), it doesn't even bare his name.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    This was the pioneer: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juan_de_la_Cierva

  • Having flown one of these machines [imgur.com] this year, I think these machines give you the best powered flying experience ever. Thank you, Ken Wallis, for contributing to the development of the awsome technology that combines the best of the airplane and the helicopter in one amazing machine.

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