Jumat, 04 Januari 2008

Prince William to train as a pilot (AFP)

LONDON (AFP) - Prince William is to join the Royal Air Force on Monday for a four-month intensive pilot training course, RAF chiefs said Friday.

The 25-year-old, who is second in line to the throne, will take to the skies with an instructor to earn his wings. The shortened course would normally take three or four years.

He is temporarily leaving his army role for the attachment, which is aimed at helping to prepare him for his future role as head of the armed forces.

Prince Charles did likewise in 1971.

Army officer William has served for a year as a second lieutenant in the Blues and Royals regiment of the Household Cavalry, following his graduation from the elite Sandhurst military academy. He is a troop commander in charge of armoured Scimitar vehicles.

While in the RAF, he will be known as Flying Officer William Wales -- equivalent to his army rank -- and wear an RAF uniform.

The prince will turn up for duty on Monday at the RAF Cranwell base in Lincolnshire, joining a class of around a dozen students.

"Flying Officer Wales will be realising a personal ambition to learn how to fly and this will be the beginning of a lifelong relationship with the RAF," said Group Captain Nick Seward, commandant of the Central Flying School at RAF Cranwell.

"If successful he will be awarded his RAF wings and in anticipation of this, a graduation ceremony is planned for April."

William will begin training on a propeller driven Grob 115E light aircraft. Squadron Leader Roger Bousfield will be the princes instructor.

Students need good hand-to-eye coordination, confidence and decision-making skills, he said.

"The first thing is to familiarise Flying Officer Wales with the plane, get him used to the controls and what they can do and very quickly we will go into acrobatics; looping the loop is one of the fun things well be doing."

If he successfully completes the initial course, he will learn to fly the faster Tucano T1 plane at RAF Linton-on-Ouse in Yorkshire.

He should finally progress to RAF Shawbury in Shropshire, to learn to fly the Squirrel helicopter.

"We have adapted the course and we have cut out anything superfluous to his specific needs because were not teaching him to be an operational pilot, were teaching him to be a competent pilot," said Squadron Leader Kevin Marsh, who is overseeing the princes attachment.

"Its going to be pretty tough. We expect him to work five days a week, hell be flying probably twice a day and hell have study to do in the evenings as well."

Williams uncle Prince Andrew was a Royal Navy helicopter pilot during the 1982 Falklands War with Argentina. He used his helicopter as a decoy for incoming missiles.

After four months with the RAF, William will serve on attachment to the Royal Navy.

The prince is gradually being groomed for his future duties as prince of Wales and as king. He has already represented Queen Elizabeth II on a handful of occasions.

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