Prince WilliamIf you’re unfortunate enough to need the RAF’s Big Yellow Taxi after coming a cropper on the hills, that face peering from the pilot’s window might look familiar.

Prince William

Photo: Cpl Ian Houlding, RAF

It was announced today that Prince William is to take up a full-time post as a member of the RAF’s Search and Rescue Force. The second-in-line to the British throne has already undergone extensive air-force training.

He will start further training in January next year and, if successful, will be able to take up an operational role with search and rescue in 2010. A typical tour for an SARF pilot is between 30 and 36 months.

William spent two weeks on work experience with SAR crews at RAF Valley in 2005. His new appointment will involve him transferring from his role as an Army lieutenant with the Blues and Royals to the RAF. His rank in the air force will be Flying Officer.

He said today: “It has been a real privilege to have spent the past year understanding and experiencing all aspects of the British Armed Forces.

An RAF Sea King helicopter“I now want to build on the experience and training I have received to serve operationally – especially because, for good reasons, I was not able to deploy to Afghanistan this year with D Squadron of the Household Cavalry Regiment.

An RAF Sea King helicopter

“The time I spent with the RAF earlier this year made me realise how much I love flying. Joining Search and Rescue is a perfect opportunity for me to serve in the forces operationally, while contributing to a vital part of the country’s emergency services.”

Prince William will continue charity work and royal duties among his service with the RAF.

Ninety per cent of the British armed forces’ search-and-rescue work involves civilian casualties in locations such as the country’s mountains, hills and coastline.