Page last updated at 00:14 GMT, Monday, 12 January 2009

Prince begins RAF rescue training


Prince William carries out a training exercise

Prince William has begun training to become an RAF search and rescue pilot.

His commanding officers at RAF Shawbury, Shropshire, and RAF Valley, on Anglesey, have insisted he will not receive any special treatment.

They also said it was possible Flight Lieutenant Wales could fail the 800,000 two-year course.

Squadron Leader Nick Pollard said: "He'll be treated like any other student, expected to do the same duties and behave in a similar fashion."

Squadron Leader Pollard, the officer commanding 203 Squadron at RAF Valley, added: "The search and rescue flights are generally a fairly close-knit team.

"We have to be, because everyone is trusting each other with their lives, in effect. He'll be expected to fit into that mould right from the start."

Prince William
The RAF has said Prince William faces a "very demanding" course

William will begin his training at RAF Shawbury, flying a Squirrel, the air-force's standard first training aircraft.

He will then progress to the larger, faster Griffin, which he will fly during his first period at the Search and Rescue Training Unit (SARTU) at RAF Valley.

Fl Lt Wales will complete his training in a Sea King, which can carry 21 passengers and crew, and is used on search and rescue operations.

It is hoped he will begin operational service in the early months of 2011.

His training should see him overlap with his younger brother, Prince Harry, who is to train to become an Army Air Corps helicopter pilot, in summer 2009.

Wing Commander Andy Lovell, chief flying instructor at the Defence Helicopter Flying School at RAF Shawbury, said the course would be a real examination of William's flying ability.

"Throughout the period of training there'll be regular tests both on the ground and in the airborne environment that he'll be required to pass, like all our students.

January 2009: Refresher course in Squirrel helicopter
Mid 2009: Search and rescue training at RAF Valley
Mid 2010: To join Sea King Operational Conversion Unit
Early 2011: To begin as operational search and rescue pilot

"If he doesn't meet our standards, it's possible he could fail," he said.

When he announced his intention to train as a search and rescue helicopter pilot last year, William said he wanted to "serve operationally".

Wing Commander Peter Lloyd, chief of staff for the Search and Rescue Force (SARF) said only a very small percentage of their work involved helping military and civilian air crews.

"That means 98% of the time is spent rescuing anyone else in distress in the United Kingdom," he said.

"Recently we've had the Grayrigg rail crash up in the Lake District, the Gloucester floods, and people with broken ankles and legs off Snowdon."

"Fl Lt Wales could be involved in any of those rescues."

The RAF has said that as well as aptitude, William will need the right attitude to succeed as a pilot.

Group Captain David Prowse, station commander at RAF Shawbury, said: "You've got to want to learn, you've got to want to do this career because we don't just do a job in the military, it's a way of life, and you've got to be fully committed to that.


Prince begins RAF rescue training

"There's a lot of learning, a very intensive course to go through so you've really got to want to go through it - and I know he does."

William learned to fly with the RAF in 2008. He was formerly an officer in the Household Cavalry Regiment in the British Army, and had also spent time with the Navy before transferring to the Royal Air Force on 1 Jan 2009.

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Milton Keynes Citizen Prince set for RAF career take-off - 14 hrs ago
Daily Express VIDEO: Wills puts RAF before marriage - 21 hrs ago
Didcot Herald Prince's RAF career set to take-off - 24 hrs ago
UPI Prince William starts helicopter training - 25 hrs ago
Shropshire Star William back at county base - 28 hrs ago

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