Prince William to Train as Search-and-Rescue Pilot

Britain's Prince William plans to become a full-time search-and-rescue pilot in the Royal Air Force, royal officials said Monday.

The prince's Clarence House office said William would begin an 18-month training program in January.

William, 26, learned to fly earlier this year during a stint with the air force. He also has served for several months with the Royal Navy and is an officer in the British army.

Clarence House said the second in line to the throne would transfer from the army to the air force, where he will hold the rank of flying officer. If he completes his course, he will fly Sea King helicopters with one of the RAF's six search-and-rescue teams.

"The time I spent with the RAF earlier this year made me realize how much I love flying," said William, who was criticized for landing an air force helicopter on his girlfriend Kate Middleton's lawn during his training, and for using another chopper to fly to a bachelor party on the Isle of Wight.

"Joining search and rescue is a perfect opportunity for me to serve in the forces operationally, while contributing to a vital part of the country's emergency services," he said.

William's regiment deployed to Afghanistan this year but for security reasons he was not allowed to go with it. His younger brother, Prince Harry, is also an army officer and served for 10 weeks in Afghanistan after officials agreed a secrecy arrangement with the British media. Once his deployment was reported, Harry was quickly flown back to Britain.

Clarence House said William would continue to carry out royal duties and charity work.