(Image: Hannibal, public domain)
Film enthusiasts may recognise the autogyro (also known as gyrocopter) above as Little Nellie, the craft flown by James Bond in the Sean Connery film You Only Live Twice. Nellie, a Wallis WA-116 Agile, is pictured here with owner Wing Commander Ken Wallis, a retired RAF officer and leading authority on gyrocopters.
Wallis piloted Little Nellie, kitted-out with an assortment of mock-up weaponry, in an aerial sequence pitching Bond against several SPECTRE helicopters. While Bond was – of course – victorious, filming wasn’t easy. Wallis almost crashed onto the camera on several occasions, while a look-down shot ended when cameraman John Jordan’s foot was severed by the autogyro’s rotor.
According to Wallis, his autogyros were produced for “reconnaissance, research and development, surveillance and military purposes”, and are not available to enthusiasts (other than in model form, above). Several of his designs are set to appear in the upcoming documentary Into the Wind, featuring the experiences and memories of Bomber Command aircrew. (More on Little Nellie here.)