Big challenge for Prince Harry

2010-05-07 13:22

British Army commanders have selected Prince Harry to train as an

Apache attack helicopter pilot, his office said today, in a boost to the

25-year-old’s hopes of returning to the front lines in Afghanistan.

Prince Harry said it was a “huge honour” to learn to fly “an

awesome helicopter.”


“There is still a huge mountain for me to climb if I am to pass

the Apache training course,” he said in a statement issued by his London

office.


“To be honest, I think it will be one of the biggest challenges

in my life so far,” he added. “I am very determined, though, as I do not want to

let down people who have shown faith in my ability to fly this aircraft on

operations.”


The prince, who is third in line to the British throne and is

known in the military as Lt Harry Wales, passed his basic helicopter training

course last month.


That granted him the right to choose to apply to train on

either the Apache, or the Lynx, a battlefield utility helicopter.

His

office said that Army Air Corps commanders judged that the prince’s skills and

flying abilities best suited the Apache, which was designed to hunt and destroy

tanks.


The helicopter has been extensively used in Afghanistan to

assault enemy ground positions and fly cover for Chinook heavy-lift support

helicopters.


Prince Harry has made no secret of his desire to return to the

front lines in Afghanistan.


The young royal – who was denied the chance to go to Iraq when

the British army said it was too risky – served in Afghanistan in 2008 as a

battlefield air controller until his time was cut short by a media leak.


Flying is in the family’s royal blood: Harry’s older brother,

Prince William, is learning to fly search-and-rescue choppers.

Prince

Charles qualified as a helicopter pilot in 1974, and their uncle, Prince Andrew,

flew a Royal Navy helicopter during the Falklands War. –  Sapa-AP



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