Attendees at this weekend’s RAF Cosford Air Show in Shropshire, England, got a major surprise as they craned their necks to watch the death-defying helicopter stunts being performed above.
Inside one of the helicopters, sitting front-seat copilot gunner as the chopper rolled, was none other than the third-in-line to the British throne, Prince Harry.
The prince, 28, was a surprise guest at the annual air show Sunday in his first-ever appearance with the Royal Air Force’s aerial-acrobatic helicopter show team, according to the U.K.’s The Sun.
The announcer narrating the show told spectators the name of the pilot and then said, “… in the front we’ve got Captain Wales, more on that later.”
“And if you didn’t know who Captain Wales is, that’s Prince Harry flying,” the narrator continued. “There you have Prince Harry demonstrating in front of you …”
Captain Wales is, of course, Prince Harry’s title in the British Army, which he joined in May 2005 and rose to the rank of Apache helicopter pilot. The British Defense Ministry named Harry the best front-seat pilot, or co-pilot gunner, in February 2012 from his class of more than 20 fellow Apache helicopter pilots.
Harry returned in January from a five-month deployment to Afghanistan with the RAF’s 662 Squadron of the Army Air Corps. The prince was among the members of the squadron chosen to participate in this year’s helicopter display team.
One spectator described Harry’s helicopter as “almost inverted, with its rotorblades down.”
“If Harry’s grandmother [Queen Elizabeth] had been watching,” the onlooker told The Sun, “she’d have been a little concerned, I would have thought.”