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Prince William's flights raising eyebrows

LONDON — Prince William has been buzzing all over England in his new ride — a Royal Air Force Chinook helicopter — like a giddy teenager with a new driver's license.

Hours after getting his pilot's wings on April 11, the future king took his chopper into London to pick up his little brother, Prince Harry. Then he steered his double-rotor, heavy-lift bird 75 miles out to the Isle of Wight, so he and Harry could go to their cousin's bachelor party.

There was a bit of harrumphing. Privilege is one thing. But a 25-year-old using a $10-million military helicopter to fly to a party struck some as a bit much.

The RAF issued a statement praising William for flying "a training sortie which tested his new skills to the limit."

It has stuck to that line but did later note that it had failed to appreciate the public reaction.

William, an officer in the army, has been on a four-month assignment to the RAF and will spend time with the Royal Navy this summer.

A few days after the party, the London tabloids were giddy with the news that during an April 3 training mission, William had landed his helicopter in a field next to his girlfriend's house.

"Battlefield helicopter crews routinely practice landing in fields and confined spaces away from their airfields as a vital part of their training for operations," a RAF official statement said.

Military analysts quoted in the media complained that average RAF junior officers would not be allowed to show off their helicopter prowess for their girlfriends.

Others found all that a bit humorless.

"He's a member of the royal family; he can park where he likes," said Tony Pursey, 43, a flower vendor.

Prince William's flights raising eyebrows 04/24/08 [Last modified: Thursday, October 28, 2010 11:55am]
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