This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government
Captain Wales achieved his qualification whilst serving in 3 Regiment Army Air Corps, which is part of 16 Air Assault Brigade’s Attack Helicopter Force.
The regiment’s commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Tom de la Rue, commented that “this was a tremendous achievement for Captain Wales who passed with ‘flying colours’”, and he was delighted to point out that Captain Wales’ new status as a qualified Apache aircraft commander and co-pilot gunner places him at the very top of his profession.
Captain Wales conducted months of training to prepare himself for the assessment whilst based at Wattisham Airfield in Suffolk. He was put through a gruelling 6-hour flying assessment which took him all over the UK, flying from Wattisham up the eastern side of England to Newcastle, then across to RAF Spadeadam, then Carlisle, then down the western side of England through Manchester and Liverpool to Birmingham and then back to Wattisham.
During the course of this assessment he was required to plan and deliver a comprehensive set of patrol orders, navigate throughout, fly in controlled airspace and conduct a simulated low-level attack onto RAF Spadeadam. At the same time he was required to deal with diversions and simulated aircraft emergencies. In the process he was comprehensively tested in his ability to perform as an aircraft commander across a wide range of tactical and procedural scenarios.
This qualification is the culmination of his training, which has seen him over the last 3 years complete the conversion to type course, which teaches students to fly the aircraft, and the conversion to role course, during which he was awarded the prize for the best co-pilot gunner.
In September 2012, Captain Wales deployed to Afghanistan as a co-pilot gunner with 662 Squadron, and on his return has furthered his experience by flying missions day and night in the UK.