LONDON (AP) — There will be no more perilous military helicopter missions for Prince William in the rugged mountainous terrain of northern Wales.
With the military's announcement Thursday that he has completed the operational phase of his career, William looks free to spend more time with his wife, Kate, and their 2-month-old son, Prince George, while he takes on more royal engagements and charity roles.
The move marks the end of an exciting phase in the prince's life — he became adept at piloting a Sea King helicopter in foul weather, helping mountaineers in distress and rescuing mariners in the frigid waters of the Irish Sea. His active military career, a traditional rite of passage for senior royals, lasted more than seven years, first in the Army and then in the Royal Air Force.
Air Chief Marshal Andrew Pulford said William had been an important part of the Royal Air Force's search and rescue force for the past three years.
"Throughout his tour his airmanship, often in the most demanding of conditions, has contributed directly to saving lives in the mountains of North Wales and from the ravages of the Irish Sea," Pulford said. "He has earned the respect of all who have worked with him as a highly professional and competent pilot."
William, 31, started as an officer cadet at Sandhurst military academy in 2006. He began search and rescue helicopter training three years later and has the RAF rank of Flight Lieutenant, similar to a captain in the U.S. Air Force.