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Tue, Apr 22, 2008

Prince William Lands Chopper In Girlfriend's Yard

RAF Chief Calls Incident "Sheer Stupidity"

ANN reported a little over one week ago on Britain's Prince William wrapping up his fixed-wing and rotorcraft pilot training with the Royal Air Force... and we're now happy to report the young royal is making excellent use of those skills. London's Daily Mail reports the prince landed his RAF Chinook in his girlfriend's backyard, while he participated in an official military exercise earlier this month.

The prince apparently practiced touch-and-goes on an estate owned by the parents of Kate Middleton, who were all-too-happy to witness the spectacle. Furthermore, William reportedly had permission from his immediate supervisors to do so... but not from higher-ups, such as RAF Air Chief Marshal Sir Glenn Torpy.

The Mail reports the RAF head "erupted" at the "sheer stupidity" of the entire affair, demanding a "line-by-line" explanation from the young prince's commanding officers. A Ministry of Defense spokesman put a gentler spin on the incident, however.

"Battlefield helicopters routinely practice landing in fields and confined spaces away from their airfields as a vital part of their training for operations," explained the official. "These highly honed skills are used daily in conflict zones such as Iraq and Afghanistan. The sortie on April 3 was fully authorized and planned and was an agreed part of Prince William's attachment to the RAF."

The incident may not have attracted quite as much ire from officials -- and the British public -- were it not for the fact Prince William was criticized just last week for another misuse of British government property. Along with his brother Harry, who serves in the British army, William flew another Chinook recently to a bachelor weekend on the Isle of Wight.

There's also the matter of the equipment William used... as the twin-rotor Chinooks are in short supply, with only about 10 reportedly available to battlefield commanders.

"It's going to leave a lot of people wondering where the sense of priority lies if very serious helicopters are being made available for this sort of thing at a time when they are in such extreme need," said Nick Harvey, Liberal Democrat Defense spokesman, about William's use of the Chinooks for private business.

As ANN reported, Prince William -- who will one day be head of the British military -- completed an intensive four-month stint in the RAF April 11.

FMI: www.raf.mod.uk

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