Prince William to pilot 999 air ambulance

EAAA crew members Dr Antonio Bellini, Gary Spitzer, Captain Dave Kelly and Dr Jayne McKinlay will be joined by the duke next spring        Pictures: PA
EAAA crew members Dr Antonio Bellini, Gary Spitzer, Captain Dave Kelly and Dr Jayne McKinlay will be joined by the duke next spring Pictures: PA
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HE HAS previously served as a Royal Air Force pilot, carrying out search and rescue operations.

Now the Duke of Cambridge is to switch to the emergency services, training in a new role as an air ambulance pilot.

William said he is “greatly excited” about the role, which will begin with a civilian pilot course next month followed by dedicated 999-response training.

He will then join the East Anglian Air Ambulance (EAAA) based at Cambridge airport next spring.

The role will be his main job but his roster will take into account the duties and responsibilities he will continue to undertake on behalf of the Queen.

A Kensington Palace spokesman said: “The duke regards his work with the RAF Search and Rescue Force as having been an exceptional privilege, and is hugely motivated by the idea of being able to continue to help people in difficult and challenging situations.

“EAAA does some truly outstanding work, and the duke wanted to make his own contribution to it.”

He will be paid a salary which he will donate in full to charity.

Patrick Peal, chief executive of EAAA, welcomed the announcement, saying the organisation would benefit both from William’s skills as a pilot and a boost to the charity’s profile.

Mr Peal added: “This is really good news and we’re delighted His Highness has decided to fly with us. We are confident this will help raise the profile of the charity and other air ambulance charities across the UK.

“We’re very fortunate that we currently enjoy tremendous levels of support but fundraising is always a challenge – we’re looking to raise £7.5 million a year to continue the lifesaving work.

“It is a very close-knit crew, with the pilot operating closely with the doctor and paramedic so we need a strong team in every operation we go on.”

There had been speculation surrounding the move since William, who is qualified to be a captain or pilot of a Sea King helicopter, ended his active service as an RAF search and rescue pilot in September last year.

His main duties will involve flying an EC145 T2 aircraft, working alongside medics to respond to emergencies ranging from road accidents to heart attacks.

The duke will fly missions in Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire. William and his wife Kate are expected to split their time between their new home at Anmer Hall near Sandringham in Norfolk and their palace apartment.

Alastair Wilson, the charity’s medical director, said he felt the duke was well suited to the role.

“He’s an extraordinary person and it’s just great that he wants to come and do something like this and fly with a charity like the air ambulance,” Mr Wilson added.

“The pilot is part of the team and he will be looking after patients with conditions that would be horrifying for many, and some pilots may not like that very much.

“Compared to his role as a search and rescue pilot, he may be dealing with more injury patients than he is used to, but I’m sure he will adapt very well.”

Initially he will be employed as a co-pilot but, after a period of training, William will be qualified as a helicopter commander.

A palace spokesman said: “The job will build on the duke’s operational experience in the Royal Air Force Search andRescue Force.”

The announcement further strengthens ties with the city from which William takes his title, after he completed a ten-week agricultural course at the University of Cambridge earlier this year.