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Prince William performs water landings in Canada
DALVAY BY-THE-SEA, PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND (AP) - Prince William enjoyed showing off his military helicopter training with his first-ever water landing Monday to the delight of anxious crowds in Canada, where he and his wife, Kate, have been on their first official overseas trip since their wedding.
The Duke of Cambridge climbed into the cockpit of a Sea King helicopter for the military training exercise at Dalvay by-the-Sea, a scenic resort along Prince Edward Island’s north shore. Prince William, a Royal Air Force rescue helicopter pilot, requested the simulated emergency landing procedure.
Dressed in an olive flight suit and helmet, the prince _ who is second in line to the throne _ settled the large helicopter on the water several times over the course of an hour.
From the water, William piloted several takeoffs and hovered in the air before executing dual- and single-engine landings before taxiing around as Kate watched from the ground.
“He was looking for his wife on the shoreline at one point,” said Col. Sam Michaud, 42, who trained William. “She was waving back about 100 feet away.”
Michaud said William is now fully trained. He said William remarked that the “boys back at his squadron would be absolutely jealous.”
Canada is the only country that trains its Sea King helicopter pilots to do a controlled landing on water if there’s an emergency. The exercise William performed Monday is known as waterbirding, and if the number of times he tried it was any indication, the prince was enjoying the technique. The Sea King, which William flies back in the U.K, has the ability to land on water because of its amphibious hull.
Maj. Pat MacNamara called him a star pilot.
“I would suggest he was having quite a bit of fun,” MacNamara said. “He said it was one of the highlights of his trip.”
Prince Edward Island resident Linda Patton, 60, said she was nervous watching the prince fly.
“It was thrilling to watch and a little nerve-racking I must admit, especially the ones he was hovering and came straight down” Patton said.
The duke will take the landing technique back home with him to use in his job, said royal press secretary Miguel Head.
“The Duke of Cambridge is, first and foremost, a search-and-rescue pilot _ that’s his job and it’s a job he’s very proud to do,” said Head. “When (William) took the decision to come to Canada, one of the things he actually asked to do was to do this.”
The royal pair then got to flex their muscles by paddling in two dragon boats to race against each other. Kate, dressed in black sportswear, got to demonstrate her athletic prowess while on the water by taking the stern of her boat. She trained as part of a dragon boat crew in 2007, and the rivalry with William appeared to be genuine.
William gripped his paddle to execute a strong stroke, while Kate moved from the stern to paddle in her boat. The prince’s boat won the short race by a hair and William exited the boat to give Kate a warm consolation hug. Kate playfully gave William a shove, as if to push him in the water.
By Tom Fitton
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