Website last updated: 7-5-2024

The Lives Of Ken Wallis written bv Ian Hancock

By: FSWL team
The lives of Ken Wallis 5th edition
The Lives of Ken Wallis: Engineer and Aviator Extraordinaire is written by Ian Hancock and available from Norfolk and Suffolk Aviation Museum.

The 4th revised edition of the biography of Wing Commander Ken Wallis (MBE) written by Ian Hancock (Museum Chairman) has grown by over 40 pages. Many new stories and episodes in Ken’s life are included within its 264 pages, supported by 126 pictures.

The book covers Ken’s schooldays and building motorbikes from the age of 11; his success with building and racing powerboats near Cambridge; then designing/building sports cars and learning to fly.

Following 32 operations as a bomber pilot in WWII, Ken spent a lot of time testing captured armament and developing equivalents; served 2 years in Strategic Air Command where he flew the giant B-36 with an atom bomb on board during the Cold War, when not being directed by General Curtis LeMay to attend automobile rallies with his “Long Dog” Rolls-Royce! Ken was called upon to solve problems with ordnance in service with the RAF, including the then new Canberra jet bomber.

On a lighter side, his inventions include the first electric slot-car circuit racing cars, with hand-made electric motors and front-wheel steering; this was back in 1942.

He retired from the RAF in 1964 to concentrate upon the development of his revolutionary autogyro design following first flight in 1959, and even went on to double as James Bond in You Only Live Twice (1967) flying his own well-armed “Little Nellie” autogyro. Other film and television roles followed, plus many requests from the Home Office and MoD to fly his various autogyros with all manner of sensing or photographic equipment on board to assist the Police, and in military manoeuvres.

He has also set 17 World Records for the autogyro in two classes - so 34 Records in all - and many still stand. Ken has been showered with awards and distinctions by national bodies and professional institutions here and abroad for his many achievements.

(The above is a short introduction to the fascinating life Ken has led but much more is covered in the softcover book.)

Book details:
Title: The Lives of Ken Wallis: Engineer and Aviator Extraordinaire
Author: Ian Hancock
Number of pages: 278 (5th edition)
Publisher: Norfolk and Suffolk Aviation Museum
ISBN 978-0-9541239-4-9

Prices within the UK:
Unsigned: 9.99 GBP + 2.50 pp
Signed: 15 GBP + 2.50 pp

(Overseas postage costs on request.)

Flown and signed limited edition:
52 copies were flown by Ken on one of his two-seat autogyros during 2011. Each book is numbered and the authentication slip has a picture of the event along with Ken’s signature.

These very special copies will be priced at 20 GBP + 2.50pp (UK).

All proceeds from the sale of this book go to the museum, and specifically to a proposed Ken Wallis Hall where his entire aviation collection will one day be preserved.

Editor's note:
For more biographies presented on From Sweden with Love, click here.

Photo above:
Cover for the 5th edition of The Lives of Ken Wallis: Engineer and Aviator Extraordinaire.

For more information about Ken Wallis Autogyros, visit the official website:



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