Autogyro legend bids for new record

Norfolk's very own famous flying legend Ken Wallis was joined by a fellow celebrity of the sky as the pair united in a bid to break yet another world record.

Norfolk's very own famous flying legend Ken Wallis was joined by a fellow celebrity of the sky as the pair united in a bid to break yet another world record.

Between them Wing Cmdr Wallis and his good friend Andy Keech, a champion parachutist, accomplished freefall photographer and fellow autogyro enthusiast, hold all of the main world records for autogyros in terms of speed, distance, rate of climb and altitude.

Wing Cmdr Wallis, who lives in Reymerston, now wants to beat his own world record for the fastest flight over 3km which he previously completed at 129.1mph.

But while he is confident that Wallis 117, one of his many self-made autogyros, could go the distance at up to 140mph, he said a rule imposed by the Civil Aviation Authority banning autogyros from travelling faster than 70mph in the UK is ruining his chances.

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He is joining forces with Mr Keech, who was visiting Wing Cmdr Wallis from his home in Washington DC, in a bid to get the rule waived for his record breaking attempt.

'I want to keep on improving my autogyros as much as I can but I am not allowed to break the world record for the fastest autogyro in the UK because I cannot go faster than 70mph. It is very frustrating,' said Wing Cmdr Wallis, 92, who famously created James Bond's Little Nellie and is a fellow of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots.

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Mr Keech, 69 and who developed his passion for autogyros after his first flight with Wing Cmdr Wallis in 1984, said: 'Not letting Ken break records is a disservice to England. It is a waste of an opportunity for England to move forward in history. Ken is on the frontline of speed and he can go further. He is a wonder. He has progressed autogyros further than anybody in history.'

Wing Cmdr Wallis, who was made an MBE in 1996, began making autogyros in 1958 and until 1998 he held every world record for autogyros.

Mr Keech, who in 1962 was the national parachute champion in his native Australia, then set about reclaiming Wing Cmdr Wallis's lost flying records for distance and altitude in his own autogyro Little Wing.

He went on to break other records set by Wing Cmdr Wallis but both men say that rather than being rival record breakers they are old friends and teammates working together to keeping improving the autogyro world records.

Wing Cmdr Wallis currently holds the class world records for speed during 3km, 15km and 100km flights as well as the time to climb to 3,000 metres record.

Mr Keech holds the records for fastest speed for 500km and 1,000km flights, as well as the records for altitude, time to climb to 6,000 metres, longest closed circuit distance and longest straight line distance covered. The pair also hold a whole host of weight division records for autogyros too.

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