London: Prince Harry, the third in line to the British throne, has passed Army helicopter pilot course, giving a major boost to his ambition to return to frontline action in Afghanistan.
The 25-year-old prince was told that he had completed his training and was also informed he had the ability to fly either the Lynx, primary battlefield utility chopper, or the Apache, an attack helicopter, St James`s Palace announced yesterday.
Harry, now dubbed his royal "flyness," will be "presented with his provisional wings by his father Prince Charles, The Prince of Wales," in a graduation ceremony on May 07.
The prince has until his graduation ceremony next Friday to decide which aircraft he would like to specialise in and his preference will be taken into consideration when military commanders make their final decision.
"Prince Harry is very pleased. He will give the matter serious consideration over the next few days before inputting his preference,” a St James`s Palace spokesman said.
The young royal, known as Lieutenant Harry Wales in the military, has already served in Afghanistan`s Helmand Province as a forward air controller directing air strikes for 10 weeks in 2007-08 and he hopes his new career as a helicopter pilot in the Army Air Corps will help him return there.
The prince, an officer with the Household Cavalry Regiment, changed the direction of his military career and became a pilot to increase his chances of being deployed to the Middle East country.
Harry began his flying training with the Army Air Corps in January last year and has been working hard to complete the course.
Speaking last June about his flying training, he said: "I`m really enjoying it and, as everyone knows, it`s my easiest way of getting back to the front line. Maybe safer, maybe not. I don`t know."
He said: "To get out to Afghanistan again would be fantastic and my best chance is to do it from a helicopter."
Harry has been training with the Army Air Corps at its base in Middle Wallop, Hampshire, flying the Squirrel helicopter.
He has spent more than 90 hours in the air during the 22-week course.
He successfully completed its final handling test on Thursday and earlier in the week finished the "course`s final exercise".
The spokesman said: "Instructors assessed Prince Harry as capable of being an Apache or a Lynx pilot."
UK forces in Helmand Province have employed the Apache to hunt and kill Taliban fighters, gather intelligence and provide cover for larger Chinook helicopters transporting troops and vital supplies.
The Lynx is a versatile machine which is used for reconnaissance, as an aerial vantage point for commanders during battles, and to transport troops.