Visit of His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales to the Army Aviation Centre
No one likes fog on the day of a Royal visit – especially when the visitor is supposed to be flying in and when the Met Office has only given you a probable clearance by midday. To compound matters the go/no go decision was at 0800 in the morning and I was the one having to make the call! However, the Met Office were good to their word, the fog lifted, and after a fraught morning of contingency planning and crossed fingers the visit went ahead as planned.
An invitation from the Commandant to His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales to visit the Army Aviation Centre was therefore brought to fruition on the 21st March 2011. This coincided with HRH Prince Harry successfully completing his Apache Conversion To Type course (CTT) at Middle Wallop.
A combined team effort from Middle Wallop units facilitated the visit, including the RAF Survival Equipment Section (SES) and both 671 and 673 Sqns. The SES visited Highgrove to fit The Prince of Wales with an Apache helmet and flying clothing in advance, and 671 and 673 Sqn crews got the opportunity to fly The Prince of Wales on the day.
A pair of 671 Sqn Lynx delivered The Prince of Wales in style to Middle Wallop from Highgrove and he was then briefed on his Apache flight by Captain Chris Mulhall of 673 Sqn.
The Prince of Wales flew a sortie over Salisbury Plain in an Apache and he was airborne at the same time as his son, who was crewing another Apache. Father and son were able to see each other flying at Deptford Down and The Prince of Wales experienced first hand the training that HRH Prince Harry has been through to graduate from the exacting Apache CTT. Post his Apache flight The Prince of Wales met other members of CTT 13 course and staff from 673 Sqn with whom HRH Prince Harry had worked with, and been taught by, over the 8 month course.
The Colonel in Chief had his logbook signed by the Commandant and his 673 Sqn instructor before being delivered to Kensington Palace by a 671 Sqn Lynx.