Prince Harry welcomed with open arms

THE news that Prince Harry could be on his way to Wattisham Airfield to continue his training as a helicopter pilot has been warmly welcomed by the local community.

Elliot Furniss

THE news that Prince Harry could be on his way to Wattisham Airfield to continue his training as a helicopter pilot has been warmly welcomed by the local community.

The Prince, who has previously served on the front line in Iraq, is currently learning to fly Lynx utility helicopters but has been reportedly doing well in his training and could be put forward for Apache duty.

The Apache is an elite attack helicopter used by the Army Air Corps and the Prince would spend a further eight months learning the ropes if he was selected as a pilot.

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His training, if he passes exams as expected, would take him first to Middle Wallop in Hampshire before progressing to Wattisham Airfield, home to the Army Air Corps Apache fleet.

Paul MacDonald, clerk of Wattisham Parish Council, said he was confident everyone in the village would be quite pleased with the prospect of having a Royal resident based nearby.

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He said: “I see no reason why people in the village wouldn't be delighted that he would be based at Wattisham. I see no reason for any objections whatsoever.

“I think that since the rumours have been around that this was a possibility, everyone has been quite pleased about it.”

Jan Wise, owner of the Red Lion pub in nearby Great Bricett, which specialises in serving homemade vegetarian food, said the doors would always be open to the Prince and his family if they came visiting.

She said: “As long as they all behave. I think Prince Charles would like it here because it's all vegetarian, and he's very green. I'm not sure whether Prince Harry is very vegetarian though.

“We could become his local. It's good publicity for the area and it might bring a bit more tourism, I suppose.”

Babergh District Councillor Desmond Keane, who represents Wattisham village, said it was a wonderful idea and he would warmly welcome the Prince's arrival, while Mid Suffolk District Councillor Patricia Godden, whose ward covers the actual airfield, said local people would not treat him any differently from the other personnel.

She said: “From what I understand from what I have read about him in the past, the last thing he would want would be to be treated with kid loves - he wants to be valued for the person he is, rather than the family he comes from.”

A spokesman for the MoD said Prince Harry could ultimately fly Apache, Lynx or Gazelle helicopters after completing his training course in early summer.

He said: “Which aircraft he flies will depend on his progress during the pilot training course, to some extent his preferences and the manning requirements of the AAC.

“A decision on which aircraft he may fly will not be made until the operational training phase at the School of Army Aviation, towards the end of the pilots course.”

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