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Flying visit for prince

By Peter Harris


Prince William is to start training at RAF Cranwell this month. His father, Prince Charles, trained at the base in 1971.

The prince will undergo an intensive course developed especially for him so that he becomes a competent flyer.

He will work Monday to Friday every week.

It is hoped that the prince will fly solo after eight to ten hours of training in the air, which is achieved by most students.

He will have his first flying experience on his first day at Cranwell, after learning emergency drills, theory and parachute training. This familiarisation flight will allow him to see the different controls and basics while up in the air.

The prince will join a class of RAF students, who have already completed one flight and have been told that he is to join them. He will live alongside them in the officers’ mess.

While at the base, Prince William will be addressed as Flying-officer Wales.

Squadron-leader Roger Bousfield will be the first instructor to take Prince William in the air in a Grob 115E Tutor, a lightweight training aircraft with two seats side-by-side.

He said he would not be thinking of Prince William as heir to the throne, but as a student who needed to learn how to fly an aircraft.

Squadron-leader Bousfield said: “It is a great compliment to be teaching Prince William.

“He shouldn’t be different to any other students. They are nervous when they first start and usually come back after their first flight with a big grin on their face.”

Once trained on the tutor aircraft, Prince William will move to North Yorkshire to train in a Tucano T1 aircraft, a fast jet plane with a turboprop engine with a maximum speed of 345mph and 310mph at low level.

Flight-lieutenant Robbie Lees, the primary instructor for the Tucano aircraft at RAF Linton-on-Ouse, said that the training of Prince William would be very a normal teaching situation when flying the aircraft.

He said: “It’s a great privilege, a real once in a lifetime opportunity to teach him.

“He will be on first name terms with me and I will call him William while we are in the air and Flying-officer Wales when we are on the ground.”

The third aircraft that Prince William will fly will be a Squirrel HT1 helicopter.

He will fly the Squirrel at RAF Shawbury in Shropshire and will be taught by Squadron-leader Rich Allison.

He said: “Flying a helicopter is a completely different experience. He will find it a challenge but it will also be enjoyable for him. Hopefully, I will convince him that helicopters are better than planes.”

If successful on the course, Prince William will gain his RAF wings and graduate from the flying school in April.

Later this year he will train with the Royal Navy.

When Prince Charles was at RAF Cranwell he was taught to fly in a Mark 5 Provost aircraft and graduated as a Flight-lieutenant in August that year. He returned to the base in 1972 and 1977 for refresher training.

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