Pilot report: The world's only airworthy Hanriot HD1

Where once Belgium’s balloon-busting ace Willy Coppens sat, today The Vintage Aviator’s pilots get to experience the unique thrill of flying the sole airworthy Hanriot HD1. John Lanham reports

It’s a lovely afternoon to be at Hood aerodrome, just north of Wellington, New Zealand. My intention is to fly a rare and unusual aeroplane — in fact, rare is something of an understatement. There are few aircraft that have in their pedigree participation in an international aerobatic event, flown by a famous ace. No, it’s not an MXS, Sukhoi Su-31, Extra 330SC or similar.

Hanriot HD1
Hanriot HD1 serial 75 is now registered ZK-EAY with The Vintage Aviator.

This is something much more special, a more than 100-year-old Hanriot-Dupont HD1 fighting scout. The occasion took place in 1922, and the pilot was Belgium’s Willy Coppens. What’s more, he had his artificial left leg —a consequence of being hit by an incendiary bullet fired by an anti-aircraft battery during his final mission of the 1914-18 war — strapped to the rudder pedal.

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