Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Norfolk's magnificent autogyro specialist has sights on new record


Norfolk's magnificent autogyro specialist has sights on new record

A fantastic article about an amazing man and the equally amazing machines that he flies. Wing Commander Wallis sounds every inch the plucky British aviator and the fact that he is 94 years old and still flying - and what's more, keen to break the autogyro speed record - is a wonderful testament to the man and his life in the air. His past history and experiences sound incredible and I shall now seek out his biography forthwith. I wish him every success in his attempt on the 4th of July and hope he can overcome the mindless bureaucracy he's facing (the man's probably got more knowledge in his little finger than in the whole of the CAA, but that's pen-pushers for you...). I'm sure he will be successful and that the event will become yet another feather in his cap.

As to the machine, the autogyro has always held a particular fascination for me. Widely regarded as the "missing link" between aeroplanes and helicopters, I find their unique appearance and flying characteristics most interesting. Personally I much prefer the earlier pre-war designs rather than the later types (also known as gyrocopters) but generally speaking they are extraordinary machines. Here are two Youtube videos of early autogyros; the first shows their invention and refinement by the Spaniard Juan de la Cierva and the second is some wonderful recent footage of the Pitcairn PA-18, which was the American licence-built version of the Cierva autogyro.

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