‘I could talk for hours about flying’: How helicopter flights with his father inspired a four-year-old Prince William to become a rescue pilot
- Prince William’s love of flying was forged during childhood
- He took flights in helicopters including with his father
- William flew with RAF and East Anglia Air Ambulance after graduating as pilot
William’s love of flying was forged during his childhood when he took flights in helicopters, including with his father.
The Prince, who flew with the RAF and East Anglia Air Ambulance, recalls keeping a treasured photograph of one such trip on his bedroom wall.
‘I could talk for hours about flying,’ he says. ‘As a young boy, I went and did a couple of trips, which I was very lucky to have with my father in a Wessex, a very, very old helicopter, no longer flies. And I got to sit in the front.
‘I didn’t realise at the time how much of an impression it would make on me, but I absolutely adored it. They gave me a photograph from the trip. I had it on my wall, and I kept looking at it, and it kept calling to me like it was saying, ‘Come on, what’s the next step?’ ‘
William’s love of flying was forged during his childhood when he took flights in helicopters, including with his father. Pictured: Prince William aged four in a helicopter cockpit
The next step, it transpired, was to join the RAF in January 2009 after a period in the Army with the Household Cavalry. After graduating as a pilot, he became a search a rescue pilot at RAF Valley on Anglesey in North Wales.
‘The moment I started the helicopter training, I realised that it was better than anything,’ he says. ‘It was one of those things that I just instantly took to and thought, ‘This is really cool’.’
The Duke began a new job as a pilot with the East Anglian Air Ambulance in 2015. Speaking on the first day in the job – which he left in 2017 to take up full-time royal duties – he said: ‘For me it is also really important to be grounded. I feel doing a job like this really helps with grounding the core of what I am trying to become.’
Like his son, Prince Charles served in the RAF, flying himself to pilot training school in 1971. Three years later, he qualified as a helicopter pilot.
Pictured: Prince William doing his first shift with the East Anglian Air Ambulance in 2015
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