Prince William and Prince Harry - helicopter training update

Published 17 April 2009

Prince William and Prince Harry are to begin new phases of their helicopter training with the Royal Air Force (RAF) and Army Air Corps (AAC) respectively following the successful completion of their courses to date.

Prince William – known as Flight Lieutenant William Wales – completed the refresher phase of his course in March, during which he undertook Basic and Advanced flying training on Squirrel helicopters at the Defence Helicopter Flying School (DHFS) at RAF Shawbury, building on the experience he gained during his attachment to the RAF in 2008. Prince William’s flying training included night flying, emergencies, practice forced landing and instrument flying.

Prince William completed approximately 56 hours of flying training during the refresher phase, building on the hours of flying training he had previously gained on his attachment to the RAF last year.

Most of the rest of Prince William’s refresher phase was spent in ground-based tuition, including meteorology, principles of flight, aircraft technology and navigation.

The Prince has now embarked on the next phase of his training, which is the Multi Engine Advanced Rotary Wing (MEARW) course which lasts until the end of the year. This phase of training uses the Griffin helicopter, a more advanced aircraft type than the Squirrel, and includes some specialist Search and Rescue training on the Search and Rescue Training Unit (SARTU) at RAF Valley in Anglesey.

All being well with Prince William’s progress, in 2010 the Prince will continue his training with the Sea King Operational Conversion Unit which is also based at RAF Valley. The role of this Unit is to produce Sea King helicopter aircrew for Operational Search and Rescue Flights.

Prince Harry – known as Lieutenant Harry Wales – is about to finish the Fixed Wing Phase of the Army Pilots’ Course at RAF Barkston Heath, which he commenced on 28th January. The Prince undertook his first solo flight – along with other course members – on 2nd March following nine hours of instruction.

The Prince has completed the last of his solo flying on fixed-wing aircraft and is now learning more advanced flying techniques including instrument flying and low- and high-level navigation. Interspersed between his flying are regular periods of groundschool covering a range of subjects of direct relevance to the next stage of the student pilots’ training on helicopters. All the course members will continue to be assessed right up to graduating onto the Squirrel helicopter at DHFS at RAF Shawbury in early May.

By the end of April, when the students are due to finish Elementary Flying Training, Prince Harry and his fellow course members will have undertaken at least 47 hours of flying each, of which six will have been solo.

Following the successful completion in October of the elementary helicopter flying programme at RAF Shawbury, Prince Harry would progress onto the Operational Training Phase (OTP) at the School of Army Aviation at Middle Wallop which would run for a further six months. If the Prince successfully passes OTP he would be provisionally awarded his Army Flying Badge (known as “Wings”). Along with his fellow course members, Prince Harry would then be streamed onto a particular aircraft type for further training. His “Wings” would be confirmed at the end of this aircraft conversion training.