The Duke of Cambridge visited RAF Coningsby today, in his position as Honorary Air Commandant of the base.
Prince William was making his fourth visit to the Lincolnshire air base, since spending a week there in 2008, to learn more about RAF life.
RAF Coningsby is home to the Royal Air Force’s ‘Quick Reaction Alert’ crews, who jump into the cockpits of Eurofighter Typhoons at a moment’s notice, to defend Britain’s skies; RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland is the other air base which provides 24-hour protection of British airspace from Russian aircraft and possible hijacked aircraft.
The Duke of Cambridge looked at ease as he climbed into the cockpit of one of the £125 million jets, and seemed to enjoy discussing the controls and the aircraft’s capabilities with Wing Commander Andy Chisholm, for over 10 minutes. William is a former RAF pilot himself, having also flown for the East Anglian Air Ambulance.
In 2008, the second-in-line to the throne experienced the Typhoon in flight, albeit from the back seat.
Not only is Coningsby home to an important part of the UK’s national security, but it is also home to the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, of which the Duke is patron, and a first-of-its-kind engagement centre for the local community.
In the new centre, Prince William met local school children as they participated in an exercise to design a parachute mechanism to drop an egg from a height. Replying to one girl who told him she wanted to be an engineer, William said: “Music to my ears – we need lots more girls as engineers!”
The new Engagement Centre is part of a campaign to increase young people’s interest in STEM, (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) and to show how physics plays an important role in RAF operations.
Interestingly, his brother Harry was at Silverstone Technical College today, which looks to provide Britain with technical staff for high-speed racing.
Ruby Brown, 9, from Tattershall Holy Trinity CofE School, presented the Duke with a picture of his young family, to which the Prince responded: “That’s a lovely drawing.”
After this, Prince William spent around 40 minutes in conversation with trainee Typhoon pilots, the future of the Royal Air Force, current pilots and ground staff at reception in the Officers’ Mess.
While the Duke was busy at Coningsby, The Duchess of Cambridge opened Place2Be’s new headquarters in London, and Harry was at Silverstone.
Lastly, the Duke was treated to a Typhoon display, flown by display pilot Flt Lt Jim Peterson.
2018 is a big year for the Royal Air Force, with it set to celebrate its centenary with a parade and service at Westminster Abbey in the summer; members of the Royal Family will be in attendance.