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Piper Cub flies in to War and Peace

Ben at the controls of his Piper L4H Cub

A rare aircraft that saw action in the Second World War will again take to the skies at the War and Peace Show.

Anthony Bendkowski, from Stockbury, near Sittingbourne, will demonstrate his tiny Piper L4H Cub at the Show, which takes place at The Hop Farm, Paddock Wood, from July 22 to 26.

The aircraft is kept at Rochester Airport, where Anthony, known to his friends as Ben, is a director and shareholder.

“She was used as a spotter plane for the American artillery in Italy,” said Ben, an oral surgeon by profession.

“The two-man crew would have flown very low to seek out targets. Their main danger was being hit by shells from their own guns which often flew above them.”

Ben bought the fragile aircraft nearly two years ago and loves every rivet of it.

“It’s sheer magic to fly,” he said. “It takes off and lands in less that 200 yards, and can fly really slowly so you get a clear view of the ground. In a head wind she almost hovers.

“The Cub is so light one person can push her into position on the ground. There are no electrics and you start her by swinging the propeller.”

The L4H was converted from the original civilian Piper Cub, an aircraft designed to make flying affordable. The main modification is extra glass in the cockpit canopy to increase visibility.

Ben and his family have been regulars at the War and Peace Show for the past six years. Usually they exhibit ground-based vehicles, including a rare Dodge weapons carrier, a GMC truck and a Jeep.

This will be the first time he’s been airborne at the Show.

“I always wanted a ‘warbird’,” said Ben, who has been a pilot for 30 years. “They’re very hard to find and it took me years to track down the Piper Cub.

“It’s living history. When I think that young men, sometimes less than 20 years old, were prepared to risk their lives in such a flimsy and fragile little aircraft for the liberation of Europe, it fills me with reverence.”

More information on the War and Peace Show website

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