Willy Coppens: Belgium’s leading WWI ace and all time balloon busting champion

The original painting is painted with water color and ink on paper.
Willy Omer Francois Jean Coppens (6 July 1892 – 21 December 1986) was Belgium’s leading fighter ace and the champion “balloon buster” of World War I.
After downing a balloon, Coppens would often perform aerial acrobatic displays above the enemy. On one occasion, the balloon, he was attacking shot upward and Coppens actually landed his Hanriot HD.1 on top of it. Switching off his engine to protect the propeller, he waited until his aircraft slid off the top of the balloon, then restarted the engine, and watched as the German balloon burst into flames and sank to the ground.
Coppens was decorated with the Order of Leopold II, the Order of the Crown, Belgian Croix de Guerre, French Legion d’Honneur, Serbian Order of the White Eagle, British Distinguished Service Order, British Military Cross, and the French Croix de Guerre.
Copyright © 2013, A. Hermann

The leading balloon buster, Willy Coppens, is personally decorated by his monarch, King Albert I.


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