Royal Air Force Service
In January 2009, William transferred his commission to the RAF and was promoted to Flight Lieutenant. He trained to become a helicopter pilot with the RAF's Search and Rescue Force. In January 2010, he graduated from the Defence Helicopter Flying School at RAF Shawbury, where he had been under the instruction of Squadron Leader Craig Finch. On 26 January 2010 he transferred to the Search and Rescue Training Unit at RAF Valley on Anglesey to receive training on the Sea King search and rescue helicopter and graduated from this course 17 September 2010.
It was announced on 15 April 2010 that William will remain at RAF Valley for his operational tour, being assigned to No. 22 Squadron and initially performing co-pilot duties. It is expected that William's operational tour will last 30 to 36 months.
William participated in his first rescue mission (as co-pilot of an RAF Sea King Helicopter) and responded on Saturday, 2 October 2010, to an emergency call from the Liverpool Coastguard. The Prince, who was excited to finally take part in an active mission, and the other three members of the crew flew from their base at RAF Valley in Anglesey, North Wales, to an offshore gas rig in Morecambe Bay, northwest England. William and three other crew members picked up a man who had suffered an apparent heart attack on the rig and airlifted him to a local hospital.
William deployed to the Falkland Islands for a six week tour with No. 1564 Flight, beginning in February and ending in March 2012. The deployment of the Duke to the Falklands close to the 30th anniversary of the beginning of the conflict (2 April 1982) was condemned by Argentina as a "provocative act", despite the fact that the RAF regularly deploys flight crews on six week tours to the Falklands.
In November 2011, Prince William participated in a search and rescue mission involving a sinking cargo ship in the Irish Sea. William, the co-pilot, helped rescue two sailors, who were then transported to a hospital in Bangor.
In February 2012, the Duke indicated that, rather than leave the service at the end of his commission in 2013, as had been expected, he would instead remain with the RAF for a further three year commission up to at least 2016, which is when the RAF Search and Rescue Force is due to be disbanded and replaced by a private contractor.
In June 2012 Prince William gained a qualification to be captain or pilot in charge of a Sea King rather than a co-pilot.
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