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William rues missing terrifying helicopter jaunt in Bhutan's mountains

Published 16/04/2016

The Duchess of Cambridge attends a reception celebrating UK and Bhutanese friendship and cooperation, at the Taj Tashi Hotel in Thimphu, Bhutan
The Duchess of Cambridge attends a reception celebrating UK and Bhutanese friendship and cooperation, at the Taj Tashi Hotel in Thimphu, Bhutan
The Duke of Cambridge (left) attends a reception in Thimphu, Bhutan

The Duke of Cambridge described being in the cockpit of a plane that landed in Bhutan as "terrifying".

William was speaking at a reception for Brits living in the mountain kingdom and Bhutanese who have connections with the UK.

William, who was joined by Kate, spoke to helicopter pilot Nic Suddards, 56, from Yorkshire, who moved to Bhutan in December to fly with their national helicopter service making emergency rescues and transporting diplomats.

Mr Suddards said afterwards that William told him being in the cockpit was "terrifying" when he and Kate landed at the kingdom's Paro airport.

The approach to the airport is one of the most challenging in the world for pilots with huge mountains flanking the run to the tarmac.

He added: "There is a house on the approach which is known as Mr Smith's house and you miss it by metres.

"The pilot was showing him Mr Smith's house and he said 'don't look at that, concentrate on the runway!'"

Mr Suddards had brought his helicopter to the airport when the royal plane landed but he did not get the chance to show the royals around as they travelled by car to their hotel instead.

The pilot said: "I told him that he missed an opportunity because the dual controls were in the aircraft specially for him and he could have flown it back to Thimphu."

When asked how William felt about that, he said: "Devastated".

Mr Suddards added: "He said he would have loved to have flown it.

"I asked him to come and do some volunteer work here because we do a lot of medical evacuations.

"He said he would love to so we'll send him an official invitation."

Kate wore a long red dress for the reception by London label Beulah with poppies on. The blue poppy is the flower of Bhutan.

The duchess spoke to Pio Smith, 39, from Newry, Northern Ireland, who has lived in Bhutan since last June when his wife got a job here working with the UN.

He said: "It's fantastic in Bhutan, especially with a young family.

"We just came from New York and it's quite the contrast."

He said about Kate: "She was really interested in hearing about what it was like to raise a family here."

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