4 JANUARY 2008

Prince William will fulfill a lifelong ambition next week when he learns to fly with the RAF. During a four-month placement at the Air Force's elite training college of Cranwell the young royal will take to skies just as his father did 35 years ago.

The 25-year-old Prince, who's currently an Army officer with the Household Cavalry, will join 11 other students on a fast-track course on Monday. William's stint with the RAF is part of ongoing preparations for his future role as head of the Armed Forces.

Like his fellow trainees, Flying Officer William Wales - as he'll be known – must adhere to the service's 'bottle to throttle' drinking ban. Pilots are barred from having more than two pints within 12 hours of flying.

The secondment will mean Wills - who also follows his uncle, Prince Andrew, a former Royal Navy helicopter pilot into flight training - is separated from his girlfriend, Kate Middleton during the week.

Early starts and studying late into the night will be par for the course, stated the head of the flying school. "I doubt he'll have much appetite for socialising," said Group Captain Nick Seward.

Photo: © Alphapress.com
The Prince, who's currently serving with the Army, starts a stint with the RAF on Monday, during which he'll be known as Flying Officer Wiliam WalesPhoto: © Getty ImagesClick on photos for gallery
Photo: © Alphapress.com
He follows a family tradition, as his father learned to fly at Cranwell, too, while his uncle Prince Andrew also earned his wings, going on to serve as a helicopter pilot in the Falklands WarPhoto: © Getty Images
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