Prince William, lifesaver!


LONDON – Britain’s Prince William has completed
his first mission as a Royal Air Force
search-and-rescue helicopter co-pilot, plucking a stricken worker from an
offshore gas rig, his office said Tuesday.

The 28-year-old, who is
second-in-line to the British throne, was among the crew of a Sea King helicopter
called to a rig in Morecambe Bay, off the coast of north-western England, on

William’s office said the crew flew
through “squally winds” and mild turbulence to collect the rig
worker, who had a suspected heart attack, and transport him to a waiting ambulance.

“Prince William is pleased
finally to be able to contribute to the lifesaving work of the
search-and-rescue force. He is proud, after two years of intense training, to
be able to serve in one of Britain’s foremost emergency services,” his
office said in a statement.

It said the royal’s Sea King
helicopter, call sign “Rescue 122”, was scrambled by the Liverpool
coast guard office, and took about half an hour to fly to the rig from the
crew’s base at RAF Valley, in Anglesey, north Wales, on the Irish Sea coast.

William, known as Flight Lt. Wales
in his new job, joined the crew last month after completing his training.

Though his younger brother Harry
served in Afghanistan in 2008 as a battlefield air controller — until his tour
of duty was cut short following a media leak, William
is considered unlikely to be allowed to serve in a combat zone.

Last year, he said he remained
“hopeful there’s a chance” he might serve in Afghanistan.
Military chiefs, however, believe William would be put in too much danger.

William is scheduled to spend three
years as a search-and-rescue pilot for the RAF, and is likely to be eventually
promoted to the rank of captain — meaning he would have overall control of his helicopter crew.

His unit routinely flies missions
to Northern Ireland, where ministers and security chiefs have warned of a
growing threat from dissident Irish Republic Army terrorism.