Prince William returns to the skies

By admin
07 August 2014

The 32-year-old will undergo five months of civilian pilot training, followed by 14 exams and a flight test.

Britain's Prince William is to get back behind the controls of a helicopter and become an air ambulance pilot, Kensington Palace announced on Thursday.

William, the Duke of Cambridge, is to be based in the city, responding to emergencies ranging from road traffic accidents to heart attacks.

If he passes all the required tests, he should take up a full time role next year with the East Anglian Air Ambulance (EAAA), a charity which provides emergency helicopter cover across eastern England.

In September last year, the prince, second in line to the throne, completed a three-year stint as a Royal Air Force search and rescue helicopter pilot in northwest Wales.

William is "very much looking forward to" the new move in his career, a palace spokesman said.

"The job will build on the duke's operational experience in the Royal Air Force.

"During this time he undertook more than 150 search and rescue operations."

In his new job, William, his wife Kate and their son Prince George, who turned one last month, are expected to split their time between their newly refurbished Kensington Palace apartment in London and Anmer Hall, a country house on Queen Elizabeth II's private Sandringham estate in Norfolk, eastern England.

The new role will be his main job but his rota will take into account his royal duties and responsibilities.

"He's an extraordinary person and it's just great that he wants to come and do something like this," said the EAAA's medical director Alastair Wilson.

"The pilot is part of the team and he will be looking after patients with conditions that would be horrifying for many and some pilots may not like that very much.

"Compared to his role as a search and rescue pilot, he may be dealing with more injury patients than he is used to, but I'm sure he will adapt very well to that."

The 32-year-old will have to undergo five months of civilian pilot training followed by 14 exams and a flight test, plus specific emergency response training.

Initially he would be a co-pilot, but after further training would become a helicopter commander.

He will be flying a Eurocopter EC145 T2 aircraft, working alongside medics responding to emergencies in Cambridgeshire and the neighbouring counties of Norfolk, Suffolk and Bedfordshire in eastern England.

The EAAA operates two helicopters, with three pilots in Norwich, Norfolk, and three based at Cambridge Airport.

Each helicopter carries the pilot, a doctor and a paramedic. William would work four days on, four days off.

Each day he will have to check his aircraft over and be aware of the local weather conditions.

Road traffic crashes make up the majority of the air ambulance's call-outs but they also have to respond to sporting injuries and other accidents.

A typical busy eight-hour shift involves four to five emergencies.

At the scene, William's first job will be to decide where to land.

"If the helicopter lands too close, there is a danger of it blowing up debris and disrupting the scene -- if it lands too far away, it will mean the patient isn't easily accessible," said EAAA aviation consultant Gerry Hermer.

"The main difference between this and his previous role is there will be less flying over sea and the helicopter will not be equipped with a winch.

"Ultimately he will be part of a crew and will sit with them all day so they are likely to become very close."

William will be paid an annual salary -- £40,000 ($67,500, 50,500 euros) according to British newspapers -- but will donate it in full to the EAAA charity.

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