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06.08.126:55 AM ET

Prince William Qualifies to Captain Rescue Choppers

HRH Flt Lt William Wales is pictured at RAF Valley after successfully qualifying as a Search And Rescue Operational Captain.   

Story: 
Flt Lt Wales has passed the tests that now see him qualified as a Search And Rescue Operational Captain, allowing him to lead rescues in a Royal Air Force Sea King helicopter in all weathers, day or night.
 The operational captaincy check, which involved ground and air based practical tests spread over a two-day period, is a culmination of nearly two years of flying experience and study on C Flight, since joining 22 Squadron based at RAF Valley in Anglesey.
 The airborne test scenarios involved a search for a yacht in trouble, followed by a search for people in the water. William and his crew then had to put a simulated fire out on a large survey vessel before being tasked to search for two missing kayakers. One of the ‘dummy’ kayakers had to be rushed to hospital with the Winchman conducting mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and cardiac massage en-route.
 With the airborne tests successfully completed, William and his crew were then tasked to a real-life rescue operation where a rig worker with chest pains was transferred from 30 miles off the Lancashire coast to Blackpool hospital.
 Officer Commanding 22 Squadron and William’s examiner, Wg Cdr Mark ‘Sparky’ Dunlop said, 
 ‘’Flt Lt Wales demonstrated the required standards needed for the award of Operation Captaincy. Due to the nature of search and rescue operations, the required standards are always set at a very high level. Operational Captaincy carries the overarching responsibility for the safety of the aircraft, its crew and any casualties.”  
 Achieving operational captaincy is a significant milestone in the career of any co-pilot and as a Search And Rescue Sea King Captain, Flt Lt Wales will have the responsibility of all the significant decisions whilst his aircraft is on SAR operations and for his three fellow crewmen.
 Operational captaincy of the SAR Sea King is a highly responsible position and co-pilots are intensely scrutin
SAC Faye Storer

Prince William has qualified as an operational captain for the Royal Air Force Search and Rescue Force.

Flight Lieutenant Wales, as he is known in the military, will now command Search and Rescue operations in RAF Sea King helicopters.  Until now, William has only co-piloted the choppers.

The operational captaincy check involved ground and air based practical tests, spread over a two day period.  The tests were a culmination of almost two years of flying experience and study for The Duke of Cambridge since joining C Flight, 22 Squadron at RAF Valley in Anglesey in September 2010.

William's commanding officer, Wing Commander Mark Dunlop, said: “Flt Lt Wales demonstrated the required standards needed for the award of Operational Captaincy. Due to the nature of search and rescue operations, the required standards are always set at a very high level. Operational Captaincy carries the overarching responsibility for the safety of the aircraft, its crew and any casualties.” 

The qualification does not alter The Duke of Cambridge’s military rank.  He remains a Flight Lieutenant.