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Last Updated: Monday, 23 May, 2005, 15:11 GMT 16:11 UK
Prince Charles visits RAF airbase
Prince Charles presents award
The Prince presented a variety of awards to RAF Valley staff
The Prince of Wales told RAF staff in Anglesey how he was once forced to dump a helicopter he was learning to fly.

"We landed in a field," he joked, as he presented a series of awards in his capacity as Honorary Air Commodore.

Among the awards was the Prince of Wales trophy, for flying excellence which went to Flt Lt Phil Bayman from Oldham, Greater Manchester.

And Flt Lt Duncan Tough from Glasgow received a commendation for a helicopter rescue from Snowdonia.

The Prince also presented graduation certificates to six officers from the Indian Air Force, who had completed a fast jet flying course at RAF Valley on Anglesey.

His own experiences of flying were more mixed, he told his audience, recalling his military training in 1975 as he was forced to dump the helicopter in a field after it caught fire.

He said: "All the alarm bells started ringing in the cockpit.

"I did have an instructor with me, but the engine shut down with flames coming out of it.

"We landed in a field next to the half-completed M5 motorway and left the helicopter standing there.

"I have to say it was moved, it is not still standing there."

Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall
Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall enjoyed Wales' Grand Slam celebration

Sea King co-pilot Flt Lt Duncan Tough, 26, from Glasgow, received his commendation for his part in rescuing a man and two children from Snowdonia in June 2004 despite developing serious technical problems with the aircraft.

Flt Lt Tough said the prince had revealed more about his own military training experiences.

"The prince told me about his experiences of flying around Snowdonia while he was training, and the problems he encountered.

"It was a great experience, and I am very proud to pick up the award."

The prince was hundreds of miles away from his wife, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, who was undertaking her first solo engagement since their wedding six weeks ago.

She visited Southampton General Hospital. The visit was cancelled in April because it was thought inappropriate in the run up to the General Election.

The couple visited Wales for the first time since their wedding when they met Wales' Grand Slam-winning rugby team at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff during the official celebration on 2 May.


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