UK & World News

  • 7 August 2014, 18:16

Prince William To Take To The Skies Again

The Duke of Cambridge is preparing to take the controls of a helicopter once more - to train as an air ambulance pilot.

Prince William has made no secret of how much he enjoyed his role as an RAF Search and Rescue pilot, which he left last September.

Now, he faces five months of training before beginning his new job with the East Anglian Air Ambulance (EAAA) based in Cambridge in the spring.

A palace spokesman said the Duke was "very much looking forward to" the next step in his career.

But it is also great news for the EAAA which relies entirely on charitable donations to keep two helicopters in action seven days a week.

Patrick Peal, chief executive of the service, said he was "delighted" William had decided to join them.

"We're very fortunate that we currently enjoy tremendous levels of support but fundraising is always a challenge," he said.

"We're looking to raise 7.5m a year to continue the lifesaving work and I'm sure that this will help to raise the profile of the charity.

Mr Peal emphasised that the Duke would become an important part of the team.

"It is a very close-knit crew with the pilot operating closely with the doctor and paramedic so we need a strong team in every operation we go on."

The EC135 helicopters used by the EAAA fly out of Norwich as well as Cambridge. They have one pilot on board as well as a doctor and a critical care paramedic, covering Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire.

But it is thought Prince William will fly a new aircraft due to be delivered called the EC145 which can carry two pilots, three medical crew as well as the patient.

His base will be 50 miles south of his new home with the Duchess of Cambridge and their baby, George, at Anmer Hall on the Queen's Sandringham Estate in Norfolk.

The family is expected to split its time between that residence and an apartment at Kensington Palace in central London.

The Duke may have trained as military pilot but must pass 14 exams and a flight test to gain his air transport pilot licence, initially being employed as a co-pilot.

Last year, the EAAA's helicopters went on 1,670 call-outs ranging from traffic accidents to cardiac arrests.

Alastair Wilson, the charity's medical director, said he felt the Duke was well-suited to the role.

"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," he said.

"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 Duke is coming to the end of what was described as "a transitional year" while working out what to do next and carrying out Royal duties, which he will continue.

His salary from his new job will be donated back to the EAAA.

A palace spokesman said: "The job will build on the Duke's operational experience in the Royal Air Force Search and Rescue force.

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

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