HRH Prince William with fellow flight crew in a pair of RAF Westland Sea King HAR.3 Search and Rescue helicopters. These aircraft are from 22 Squadron ‘C’ Flight based at RAF Valley in Wales.
Prince William earned his wings by completing pilot training at RAF College Cranwell. In 2009, the Prince transferred to the Royal Air Force, was promoted to flight lieutenant and underwent helicopter flying training in order to become a full time pilot with the Search and Rescue Force. In Autumn 2010 he completed his general and special-to-type helicopter training and joined 22 Squadron ‘C Flight’ at RAF Valley in Wales to undergo a full tour as part of the Sea King search and rescue helicopter force.
The Westland Sea King entered service as long ago as 1969 and has been adapted for many roles and used by countries around the world including Australia, India, Germany, Egypt and Norway. The Sea King’s versatile and robust construction has enabled its use in many situations including combat roles in the Falklands war, the first Gulf War, the Balkans and Iraq. Numerous variants have been developed including Airborne Early Warning, troop movement and supply, anti-submarine and Search and Rescue. A long program of technical evolution has resulted in the sophisticated aircraft in operation today. The aircraft shown in the painting are the HAR.3 variant, developed specifically for the RAF Search and Rescue Force. The bright yellow Sea King’s have been a feature of the UK’s coastal areas since they replaced the Westland Whirlwind in 1978.