Prince Harry passes test to be Apache aircraft commander

July 6, 2013 at 12:16 AM
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LONDON, July 6 (UPI) -- Capt. Harry Wales, the helicopter pilot known in civilian life as Prince Harry, qualified as an Apache aircraft commander, U.K. military officials said Friday.

The Ministry of Defense said the prince performed well on a 6-hour assessment, the Daily Mirror reported. He flew the attack helicopter on a circuit of England, taking off from a Suffolk airfield and heading up to Newcastle, across to Carlisle and down the west side of the country while being put through various emergency scenarios.

Lt. Col. Tom de la Rue, Wales' commanding officer, said he passed with "flying colors." De la Rue called his performance a "tremendous achievement."

"I am delighted that his new status as a qualified Apache aircraft commander and co-pilot gunner places him at the very top of his profession," de la Rue said.

The prince attended the British military academy at Sandhurst and served twice in Afghanistan, though his first tour was cut short by media reports that he was in the war zone.

The royal family has a tradition of military service. Harry's great-grandfather, the future King George VI, was a naval officer in World War I and served in the battle of Jutland; his grandparents both served in World War II, Prince Philip in the Royal Navy and the future Queen Elizabeth as a mechanic in the Auxiliary Transport Service; and his father Prince Charles served in the air force and navy as a jet and helicopter pilot and minesweeper commander.

More recently, Harry's uncle, Prince Andrew, was a helicopter pilot in the Falklands War; and his brother, Prince William, is finishing up a tour with the Royal Air Force search-and-rescue force.

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