North West Wales

Prince William features in new Helicopter Rescue TV series

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Media captionPrince William talks about his day job in the BBC documentary

Prince William's work as an RAF search and rescue helicopter pilot in Wales is to be featured in a BBC series.

Helicopter Rescue is the first to show extensive footage of the Duke of Cambridge helping to save casualties.

Flt Lt Wales as he is known in the RAF has been serving with C Flight of 22 Squadron at RAF Valley on Anglesey since 2010.

In one of the rescues, he is the aircraft captain as the crew is called to an old quarry in Blaenau Ffestiniog.

A local boy has fallen dangerously off an old railway bridge onto rocks.

He describes his role once the call comes in: "As captain you're trying to play out the entire rescue, the transit to the rescue and back again in your mind, and pick up any circumstances or problems you can foresee, and try and fix them on the ground before you get airborne."

Reflecting on the pressures of the search and rescue work, Flt Lt Wales admits during the series that their role is also a source of immense pride.

"There's no greater feeling than when you've actually done some good and saved someone's life," he said.

"I don't think there's any greater calling in lifeā€¦ to be able to see a son or daughter's face when you bring their mother or father back from the edge of death - it's quite powerful."

But the documentaries also catch the action and ethos of the other crew members around the prince on Anglesey, and at RMB Chivenor in Devon.

Fear and danger

Winchman and paramedic Master Aircrewman Richard Taylor describes just how treacherous rescue work can be, as a decision is made that they should winch a casualty on board the helicopter on a stretcher.

"It's a challenging procedure," he says, "and inherently dangerous to put a man on a very thin piece of wire, hanging underneath nine tons of helicopter that's susceptible to turbulence and problems itself, and may have to fly away."

Image caption For the first time a television series captures Prince William at work as an RAF rescue helicopter pilot

Last year, the two RAF search and rescue bases covering Wales were scrambled 566 times, making them the busiest in Britain, with more than 470 people being rescued.

As well as footage of rescues, the programmes feature interviews with crew members as they describe how they work in challenging conditions.

In one programme, winchman Sergeant Ed Griffiths, from Nefyn in Gwynedd, puts his life on the line as he battles atrocious conditions to rescue four students stuck on a ledge in deep snow on the peak of Tryfan in the Ogwen Valley.

"You do get scared at times," Sgt Griffiths admits.

"It was one of the trickier rescues that I've done. They were icy, snowy conditions - ice with fresh snow packed on top.

"We didn't have the option of escaping into the cloud because the helicopter would have just frozen up and potentially dropped out of the sky."

This week it was announced that US-firm Bristow Group has won a 10-year contract from 2015 to take over search and rescue from the RAF.

The operation will move from Valley to Caernarfon, while a new base will be set up at St Athan in the Vale of Glamorgan.

Helicopter Rescue starts on Monday 15 April at 20:30 BST on BBC One Wales.

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