May 4, 2010 — Like father, like son. Like brother, like uncle; it appears flying is in the family’s royal blood.
Prince Harry, third in line to the crown, earned his wings after passing his final exams on April 29 to qualify him as an Army helicopter pilot. He’s the fourth in his family to take flight.
Harry’s older brother, Prince William, is learning to fly search-and-rescue choppers and will be posted to a Royal Air Force base in Wales when he completes his training. Harry and William’s father, Prince Charles, flew choppers in 1974 during his time in the military, and their uncle, Prince Andrew, flew a Royal Navy helicopter during the Falklands War.
A palace spokeswoman said the prince, who is known as Lt. Harry Wales in the military, was "very pleased" to have passed the course, which began last January. She said any decision on returning to the war zone would be for the army's chain of command, according to the Associated Press.
"Like any soldier, Prince Harry would deploy to where he is asked," she said.
Prince Harry spent three months directing air strikes as a forward air controller in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province. He says he hopes to return there to fly as a pilot in the Army Air Corps. However, if Harry were to deploy to Afghanistan, it likely wouldn't be until at least 2011.
The Prince will learn this week whether he will fly Apache attack helicopters, or the Lynx battlefield utility helo. The army will ultimately make the decision, but Harry is entitled to request a specific aircraft — and his preferences, "to some extent," are considered, the palace said, along with his ability and the army's operational needs.
The Ministry of Defense says that, once it is determined which aircraft Harry will fly, he'll receive additional training specific to that aircraft. Meanwhile, Harry will be presented with his provisional wings this Friday by his father.
Prince Harry earned his helicopter wings after passing his final exams on April 29. Photo credit
Prince Harry hopes to return to Afghanistan. Photo credit