|Prince William, now a qualified SAR Operational Captain. UK MoD|
Second in line to the throne after his father, Prince William recently qualified as a search and rescue (SAR) pilot in duties as part of the Royal household in the UK will steadily increase, as the military involvement in conducting SAR missions around the UK is set to stop in the next few years. Military SAR will be replaced by a completely civilian service, a move much resented by the RAF who considered their involvement not only as a valuable break from front-line service, but also a chance to refresh a wide range of other operational and crew resource management skills.
Ironically, training to be a SAR pilot at RAF Valley on the Isle of Anglesy in north Wales gave the Prince much needed privacy. One national newspaper was said to have contemplated calling the emergency services to rescue a “damsel in distress”—likely to have been a model in a swimsuit with photographers standing by. As far as its known, the event never took place. The SAR Operational Captain qualification means Flight Lt. Wales (as he has been called throughout the course) is now able to lead rescues in a Royal Air Force Sea King helicopter in all weather, day or night.
Being awarded Operational Captaincy represents the culmination of nearly two years of flying experience and study. Soon after the completion of his final flying tests, the Prince and his crew were called to a real-life rescue operation where a rig worker with chest pains was transferred from 30 miles (48km) off the Lancashire coast to Blackpool Hospital.