William climbs into cockpit to take the controls of RAF fighter jet

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The Duke of Cambridge has climbed into the cockpit of an RAF Typhoon jet as he visited one of the bases at the forefront of the UK’s air defence.

William accepted an invitation to sit in the pilot’s seat of the multi-role combat aircraft at RAF Coningsby – a decade after he flew in the back seat of the fighter from the same station.

The Lincolnshire base is one of two which provide 24 hour-a-day, seven days-a-week fighter cover to intercept threats ranging from Russian bombers to commercial airliners suspected to have been hijacked.

The other is RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland.

Wearing a suit, the duke spent 10 minutes in the cockpit discussing the controls and the aircraft’s capabilities with Wing Commander Andy Chisholm.

Duke of Cambridge visit to RAF Coningsby
The Duke of Cambridge sits in the cockpit of a Eurofighter Typhoon during a visit to RAF Coningsby (Phil Noble/PA)

The duke spent a week based at RAF Coningsby in 2008 as he was given an introduction to the three branches of the armed forces.

He is now Honorary Air Commandant of the base.

The duke asked a group of children at the base’s new engagement centre if they wanted to be pilots in the RAF.

When one girl replied that she wanted to be an engineer, William said: “Music to my ears. That’s fantastic. We need lots more girls as engineers. They’re very, very good.”

After watching as the children, all from local primary schools, competed to design and build a device for successfully parachuting an egg, he giggled as he was presented with a gift of a school tea-towel.

The duke laughed at the children’s drawings of the class and their teachers on the towel.

He joked: “Do the teachers come off lightly… no they don’t.”

And he thanked nine-year-old Ruby Brown, from Tattershall Holy Trinity CofE Primary School, who presented him with a picture of him, the Duchess of Cambridge and their two children.

He said: “Is that me and is that Kate? That’s a lovely drawing. Thanks very much.”

Ruby said: “It was of Prince William, Princess Kate, Prince George and Princess Charlotte. I thought it might be nice. I thought he would like it and he could give it to his children.”

She said: “It was quite nerve-racking because you don’t normally find a prince walking around day-by-day.”

William chatted to another group of children about football, reminding them he was an Aston Villa fan.

He told one girl: “Norwich? Norwich is a good football team.”

The children were in the new Engagement Centre where the duke was also shown a heritage display about the history of the station and the rest of the education unit which aims to engage local children in science and engineering.

He completed his day at Coningsby – which was partly aimed at promoting the RAF’s 100-year anniversary aims of “commemorate, celebrate and inspire” – by watching a spectacular display over the airfield from one of the Typhoons.

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