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Prince William performs water landings in Canada

Prince William enjoyed showing off his military helicopter training with his first-ever water landing Monday to the delight of anxious crowds in Canada, where he and his wife, Kate, have been on their first official overseas trip since their wedding.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Prince William enjoyed showing off his military helicopter training with his first-ever water landing Monday to the delight of anxious crowds in Canada, where he and his wife, Kate, have been on their first official overseas trip since their wedding.

The Duke of Cambridge climbed into the cockpit of a Sea King helicopter for the military training exercise at Dalvay by-the-Sea, a scenic resort along Prince Edward Island's north shore. Prince William, a Royal Air Force rescue helicopter pilot, requested the simulated emergency landing procedure.

Dressed in an olive flight suit and helmet, the prince settled the large helicopter on the water several times.

From the water, William piloted several take-offs and hovered in the air before executing dual- and single-engine landings before taxiing around as Kate watched from the ground.

"He was looking for his wife on the shoreline at one point," said Col. Sam Michaud, 42, who trained William. "She was waving back about 100 feet away."

Michaud said William is now fully trained. He said William remarked that the "boys back at his squadron would be absolutely jealous."

Canada is the only country that trains its Sea King helicopter pilots to do a controlled landing on water if there's an emergency. The exercise William performed Monday is known as waterbirding, and if the number of times he tried it was any indication, the prince was enjoying the technique. The Sea King, which William flies back in the U.K, has the ability to land on water because of its amphibious hull.

Maj. Pat MacNamara called him a star pilot.

"I would suggest he was having quite a bit of fun," MacNamara said. "He said it was one of the highlights of his trip."

Prince Edward Island resident Linda Patton, 60, said she was nervous watching the prince fly.

"It was thrilling to watch and a little nerve-wracking I must admit, especially the ones he was hovering and came straight down" Patton said.

The royal pair then got to flex their muscles by paddling in two dragon boats to race against each other. Kate, dressed in black sportswear, got to demonstrate her athletic prowess while on the water by taking the stern of her boat. She trained as part of a dragon boat crew in 2007, and the rivalry with William appeared to be genuine.

William gripped his paddle to execute a strong stroke, while Kate moved from the stern to paddle in her boat. The prince's boat won the short race by a hair and William exited the boat to give Kate a warm consolation hug. Kate laughed and tried to push William in the water.

"She has dragon boated before and you could tell. She said she thoroughly enjoyed it," said Stephen Gallant, 46, who took part in the race.

Before taking to the water, the royal couple were welcomed to their third Canadian province on Monday with cheering, waving crowds excited to catch a glimpse of royalty at Province House. The site is the home of Prince Edward Island's legislature and of a historic meeting 146 years ago that paved the way for Canada's eventual unification and independence.

The royal couple was on the fifth of a nine-day trip to Canada, part of their first official overseas trip since their April 29 wedding.

On Monday, Kate sported a cream dress by Sarah Burton at Alexander McQueen, who designed the wedding gown she wore. William wore his traditional dark suit and red tie.

For the third time during the trip, William spoke in French and English to address the crowds.

"We have both so looked forward to this day, and discovering more about your beautiful island," he said.

The royal pair delighted the several thousand people gathered at the site by walking over to shake some of their hands and stop for a quick chat, while others handed them flowers, including the east coast Canadian flower, Lupins, and hand-held Canadian flags, while snapping photos.

Jennifer Thomson, 26, had a poster saying "Kate can I borrow your outfit?"

"I think she's setting a new fashion trend and I personally love them and would love to wear them," she said, adding it was important for the couple to come to Canada. "I think it will only strengthen the ties between Canada and England and the monarchy," she said.

The smiling couple hopped into a landau led by Canadian mounties to take them to Confederation Landing for another walk-about before heading to the resort at Dalvay by-the-Sea.

Later Monday, the royal pair meet an actress who plays the fictional star of Anne of Green Gables, the classic Canadian novel for which Prince Edward Island is famed.

On Sunday the couple thrilled hundreds of adoring fans in Quebec with an unscheduled walkabout in a city that was the site of the key British victory in the conquest of the French.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, as they are officially known, encountered small but vocal protests, but that did not deter the couple from charming the Quebeckers with an unexpected walkabout. The royal couple went to a barricade in the square around City Hall, chatting and shaking hands with enthusiastic supporters before leaving by motorcade.

The newlyweds leave for a three-day trip to California on July 8.


Associated Press Writer Charmaine Noronha in Toronto contributed to this story.