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RAF Fairford air extravaganza gets thumbs up from Prince George

Prince George was the centre of attention as he joined his parents at the world's largest military air show - the first time he has accompanied them on an official engagement in the UK.

The toddler, who turns three in two weeks, waved to crowds and gave a big thumbs up during the family trip to the Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire.

Dressed in a white T-shirt and navy shorts, well-behaved George was led by the hand and carried by both the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge across the airfield.

He sat in the cockpit of a Red Arrow Hawk and met members of the RAF Red Arrows display team shortly before privately watching their display with his parents.

George also sat in a Squirrel helicopter - the same aircraft William trained in while based at RAF Shawbury in 2009 - and appeared fascinated with its tail rotor.

The family stunned visitors by having an impromptu walk around the site after the official part of their visit had concluded, looking at a further two planes together.

Flight Lieutenant Jim Hobkirk, of the Central Flying School Exam Wing, showed William, Kate and George the Squirrel helicopter.

"As I suspected, Prince George was a bit overawed with the noise and being inside the helicopter," Flt Lt Hobkirk said.

"It was a nice family moment. The Duke was talking about ways of flying. George was very, very quiet.

"He is not even three years old. He was very interested in the tail rotor.

"I imagine the Duke has told him about helicopters because he knew what it was - he kept saying 'tail rotor'."

William climbed into the instructor's seat of the cockpit of the aircraft and explained ways of flying it to Kate and George, who were sat in the back.

The toddler was lifted out by his father but immediately reached out to be carried by Kate, who wore a leopard print hairband as the airfield was blustery.

They walked around the helicopter together, with George - wearing BanZ ear defenders to protect him from the noise - pointing out parts of it and the airfield to his mother.

"They seemed very relaxed," Flt Lt Hobkirk added.

"The Duke said he missed flying, he wishes he could fly more and he said he was envious of me.

"I think the Duchess was concerned with trying to make the young Prince happy."

The family arrived at the airfield in a Range Rover shortly before midday and were greeted by Air Marshal Sir Kevin Leeson, chairman of the RAF Charitable Trust, and Air Chief Marshal Andrew Pulford, Chief of the Air Staff, RAF.

They then met members of the RAF Air Cadets as the organisation is celebrating its 75th anniversary.

Kate, patron of the Air Cadets, wore a blue Stella McCartney dress, black Smythe blazer and nude heels, while William was dressed in beige trousers, blue blazer and white shirt.

George was given a blue piggy bank, part of a souvenir range for the anniversary, by Cadet Flight Sergeant Eleanor Horton, 19, of 125 (Cheltenham) Squadron Air Training Corps.

"He said 'thank you', he was very sweet," she said.

"I said, 'I hope one day he will be an air cadet'. He was so cute. He seemed more interested in the aeroplanes."

TV star Carol Vorderman, ambassador and honorary group captain for the Air Cadets, was introduced to George by his father.

"It was lovely because obviously they are a flying family," she said.

"I think now that once you have the bug it is a shared love and everybody in the Air Force is the same - there's nothing like it.

"Prince William was saying to George 'This is Carol, she flies an aeroplane as well'. George is obviously keen on aircraft apart from the noise."

Air Commodore Dawn McCafferty, commandant of the Air Cadets, added: "It was gorgeous, it was lovely to meet George.

"We invited George to become an air cadet - in about 10 years' time. It's his first air show so he was probably finding the noise quite loud.

"He was pointing out the aircraft in the sky. He's clearly interested. The Duchess said to thank the air cadets for the work they're doing here. She's a great patron."

Kate took over the role of patron from the Duke of Edinburgh in December last year.

The family travelled by train from Paddington to the air show, which is staged in support of the RAF Charitable Trust.

This year's event, from Friday to Sunday, will feature the international display debut of the Lockheed Martin F-35B fast jet.

After the official part of the engagement, Kate, William and George had a private family lunch before having an impromptu walk around the site.

They went inside a Royal Australian Air Force C-130 Hercules, with the toddler giving a big thumbs up to crowds afterwards.

Wearing a blue sticker from the 2014 Air Tattoo - which celebrated the 50th Display Season of the Red Arrows - he skipped around a Hawker Sea Hawk.

William was overheard telling his son, "Come on - let's go, we're going to see the Red Arrows now" as they left the plane.


From Belfast Telegraph