Prince performs 'waterbird' landing, but what is it?
Published Monday, July 4, 2011 5:10PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, May 19, 2012 5:15AM EDT
Prince William performed a daring made-in-Canada manoeuvre in Prince Edward Island on Monday, simulating a series of emergencies as he landed a Sea King helicopter on the surface of a lake.
William, who is a Royal Air Force search-and-rescue helicopter pilot based in Wales, performed the "waterbird" exercise several times for a crowd that included his wife, Catherine Middleton.
During the demonstration, which simulates an engine failure over water during a hover, the dual-engine CH124 Sea King aircraft descended from about 12 metres above the surface of Dalvay Lake.
William was sitting in the pilot's seat of the aircraft.
The helicopter then performed a controlled landing on the water, as would be necessary if the helicopter's engines failed and land was out of reach.
The aircraft was in a slightly nose-up position as it smoothly splashed down.
The Sea King, which has a hull-like belly, then taxied on the surface of the water for several minutes before returning to the skies.
The chopper was covered in pieces of yellow tape, which is used to seal up vents and perforations where water could potentially penetrate the hull, putting the aircraft and its electronics at risk.
The operation was repeated a number of times in the light drizzle.
The waterbird exercise was developed in Canada for use by pilots of the Sea Kings, which are often used for low-level, over-water purposes such as slinging, hoisting or search-and-rescue operations.
The Sea King, Canada's aging search-and-rescue helicopter, is notoriously accident prone. The choppers require 30 hours of maintenance for every hour of flying time.
Canadian Air Force Sea King pilots receive one hour of waterbird training each year.