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Australia: Kate takes control of fighter plane

(Sydney)  The Duchess of Cambridge relegated her husband to the role of an onlooker when she turned down his offer to jump into the back seat – of a fighter jet. Yesterday she suggested he try an alpaca toupee, and this morning she took control of a sophisticated fighter plane, sitting in the pilot’s front seat.

William was left watching his wife marvel at the Super Hornet’s array of dials and buttons during a visit to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) base Amberley near Sydney. The Duke had made an offer to his wife he believed she could not refuse, asking: “Do you fancy jumping in the back?”

But the Duchess was not about to miss the opportunity to see for herself the multimillion-pound plane’s cockpit. Stephen Chappell, Commanding Officer of Number 1 Squadron, whose pilots fly the Super Hornet, said Kate was fascinated by the “dials and gadgets” on the fighter aircraft. He remarked there was some “bi-play between the two as to who was sitting in what seat”.

The Duchess stepped into the cockpit of the jet deftly. Wearing a white LK Bennett dress decorated with blue poppies Kate first lifted up her left leg then her right one, mindful that it should not rise up too far. During the visit the Duke and Duchess spent some private time with the relatives of four Australian servicemen who lost their lives in recent conflicts.

They met the family of Lance Corporal Stjepan “Rick” Milosevic, Trooper David Pearce, and Private Matthew Lambert, who were all killed in Afghanistan, and Flight Lt Paul Pardoel, who died in Iraq. They spent about 10 minutes privately chatting to the relatives before moving on to a reception with veterans and their families.

Speaking ahead of the visit, Air Commodore Tim Innes, Senior Air Force Officer at RAAF Amberley, said the meeting would mean much to families still struggling with an enormous sense of loss. He said: “That’s an extremely important point about the visit. That is a big part of why they are visiting the base – to honour those fallen and those who made a sacrifice in Afghanistan and other conflicts around the globe.”

During their tour of the base Kate was presented with a boomerang by t wins Ellijah and Tobee Dyer, aged three. As the Duchess bent down to receive it she asked “It’s for me?” Elijah corrected her and said: “It’s for George, from us.”

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