Prince William is to train to become a full-time pilot with the Royal Air Force’s Search and Rescue Force (SARF). The Prince, who learned to fly earlier this year with the Royal Air Force (RAF), will build on the training he has already received to become an operational Sea King pilot.
The Prince will begin his 18 month training course with the RAF in January 2009 and, if successful on the course, would become a fully operational Search and Rescue pilot in 2010 with one of the six UK-based RAF SARF flights. Once operational, a typical tour for a pilot in the SARF is 30 to 36 months.
Prince William will start his training in the rank of Flying Officer, having been commissioned into the RAF in January 2008. He will transfer his service from the Army, in which he currently serves as Lieutenant in the Blues and Royals, to the RAF.
Prince William said today:
“It has been a real privilege to have spent the past year understanding and experiencing all aspects of the British Armed Forces. I now want to build on the experience and training I have received to serve operationally - especially because, for good reasons, I was not able to deploy to Afghanistan this year with D Squadron of the Household Cavalry Regiment.
“The time I spent with the RAF earlier this year made me realise how much I love flying. Joining Search and Rescue is a perfect opportunity for me to serve in the Forces operationally, while contributing to a vital part of the country’s Emergency Services.”
In the time available between his training and operational commitments with the SARF, Prince William will continue to work with the organisations and charities with which he is associated, as well as carrying out some public Royal duties.