Prince Philip, who passed away on 9 April at the age of 99, was an avid aviator, logging more than 6k hours in his lifetime
Prince Philip, who passed away on 9 April at the age of ninety-nine, was an avid aviator. He began his flying training in November 1952 at White Waltham, and went solo the following month. He started out on Chipmunks and then progressed to Harvards and Vampires, being awarded his ‘wings’ by the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir William Dickson at a private ceremony at Buckingham Palace on 4 May 1953.
One famous photograph portrays ‘his’ Harvard with five stars painted on the cowling, signifying his rank of Marshal of the Royal Air Force. The Duke also started flying helicopters and obtained his helicopter wings in 1956, and his private pilot’s licence in 1959. The same year he also flew a British-built Rollason Turbulent (the only single-seater ever flown by a member of the royal family) a diminutive Volkswagen Beetle-engined aeroplane designed to encourage people to fly their own aeroplane. He would eventually log almost six thousand hours in over sixty different types, from Slingsby Eagle and Capstan sailplanes to that Turbulent single-seater, and up to airliners such as the Trident, Boeing 757, McDonnell Douglas DC-10 and even Concorde.
Prince Philip was also the Patron of The Air League and the Guild of Air Pilots and Navigators (now the Honourable Company of Air Pilots). HCAP’s Prince Philip Helicopter Rescue Award is presented annually to an individual member of a helicopter crew, a complete crew or the crews of multiple helicopters, for an act of outstanding courage or devotion to duty in the course of land or sea search and rescue operations. The Duke was also Air Commodore-in-Chief of the Air Training Corps.