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William enjoys risque joke with Battle of Britain veteran

Published 22/09/2015

Spitfires and Hurricanes flying in formation
Spitfires and Hurricanes flying in formation

The Duke of Cambridge was told a risque joke by a Battle of Britain veteran as he marked the 75th anniversary of the aerial conflict by taking to the skies.

Wearing a flying suit, helmet and mask William took the front seat in a Chipmunk training aircraft during a visit to the home of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF).

Before taxiing and taking off , with a pilot behind him, the Duke had spent time with Second World War RAF veterans surrounded by iconic Spitfire and Hurricanes kept in the air by the BBMF.

Former Spitfire flier Ken Wilkinson, who was one of the Battle of Britain pilots famously dubbed the "few" by wartime leader Winston Churchill chatted to William and asked if he had flown in his old aircraft.

Prince Harry has piloted the famous plane and William replied "my brother's been up in one and I'm dying to do it".

Mr Wilkinson could not help adding mischievously adding "I'm under instruction not to tell dirty stories", and the Duke asked him to tell the story.

Later the former wartime pilot recounted his story about a man called Joe who becomes the captain of his golf club and insists on only being referred to by his new title at a dinner where he receives his honour.

Mr Wilkinson said at the end of the event the man went home, got undressed and as he got into bed with his wife announced himself as the "captain" and she replies "You have to be quick, Joe will be home soon".

William had planned to join the crew of a Second World War Dakota aircraft but when a mechanical issue was discovered with the vintage plane the back-up Chipmunk was used.

At the controls of the aircraft was Squadron Leader Duncan Mason, officer commanding the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, and he spent a long period talking the Duke through the controls before they took off.

They were joined in the air by a Spitfire, flown by Flight Lieutenant Anthony Parkinson, and the two aircraft flew in formation for a period in the blue autumn sky.

When the Duke landed he was clearly impressed by the Spitfire and told the two pilots and 97-year-old Mr Wilkinson: "Seeing it flying alongside was fantastic - pretty special."

Sqn Ldr Mason said later it was an "absolute" privilege to take William flying and said the Duke took control of the plane.

He said: "The great thing about the Prince is he's a pilot and he just instantly engaged. He's never flown one before but he's a helicopter pilot which is all about stick and rudder and the Chipmunk is the same.

"I obviously took off and landed but once we were up there he took the controls."

He added that when the Duke saw the Spitfire he was impressed: "He had a very similar reaction to most people, just awe struck at its beauty."

William is patron of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, which runs the Chipmunk plane he flew from the organisation's base at RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire.

The Duke is also Honorary Air Commandant of Coningsby, home to 29 (Reserve) Squadron which trains the RAF's Typhoon pilots and is celebrating its centenary this year.

He began his visit to the RAF station by marking the Squadron's milestone and received the royal salute from servicemen and women from the unit on parade.

During the event he sat with family members of the Squadron's personnel and the guests watched as a Typhoon jet roared overhead performing an impressive acrobatic display.

The squadron was formed in November 1915 and by the following March was deployed to France with its pilots seeing action during the Battle of the Somme.

During the Second World War, Flight Lieutenant Guy Gibson, later to earn global fame as the leader of the Dambusters, joined the squadron, and more than 60 years later in the Falklands conflict the unit deployed to Stanley to provide air defence.

By the late 1980s the squadron became the first operational unit to be equipped with the Tornado F3 and it deployed to Saudi Arabia after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in August 1990, participating in operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.

Today it not only trains Typhoon pilots but is one of a number of squadrons that help defend the skies above the UK.

Typhoons have been scrambled from Coningsby a number of times this year after Russian aircraft were identified flying close to UK air space.

The Duke ended his visit by having a private meeting with the crews who fly missions to safeguard the skies above the nation.

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