Prince William pulled off a dramatic life-or-death helicopter rescue just 48 hours after announcing his engagement.The hero Prince co-piloted an RAF Sea King which rescued heart-attack victim Greg Watkins from 3,000ft up a storm-lashed mountainside.In a daring manoeuvre, William used a small break in the thick fog to guide his chopper – buffetted by ferocious crosswinds – to the scene before winching down a crewman.“If it wasn’t for him and the rest of his crew, I’d be dead,” said Greg, 45, who was last night recovering after an operation.“Hearing his helicopter getting nearer and nearer was the best sound I’ve ever heard. He and his crew saved my life.”
William, 28, was scrambled to rescue the dad-of-two from half-way up Mount Snowdon in North Wales at 1.30pm on Thursday.The alert came only five hours after he returned to his duties at RAF Valley in Anglesey following the big announcement of his engagement to Kate Middleton.Following a whirlwind of meetings, interviews and international photocalls after the announcement, William slipped calmly into his flier’s seat to help guide the aircraft through strong winds, torrential rain and blinding fog.He saved vital minutes by exploiting a momentary break in the appalling weather to get close enough for Greg to be winched off the mountain – the highest in England and Wales at 3,650ft – and fly him to hospital in nearby Bangor.“I didn’t know much about what was happening at the time,” said gym worker Greg, of Ebbw Vale, South Wales, who had been walking in the hills with six pals.“I didn’t know Prince William was flying the helicopter until we landed at the hospital. Even then, I felt too unwell for it to register much. The winchman helped me out and on to a stretcher and whispered, ‘Prince William’s just flown you here.’ I looked up at him and just said: ‘Oh. Tell him thank you.’“It didn’t really sink in until I woke up after my operation. Now I think it’s amazing. Being winched off a mountain by an RAF helicopter was the last thing I thought was going to happen to me. But for it to be flown by Prince William is unbelievable.
“I’d only been watching him announce the engagement on TV with Kate a few hours earlier – it was his first mission since going back to work. I feel lucky to be alive but even luckier to have been rescued by the future King of England. I want to tell him how grateful I am to him and the rest of his crew.“He’d probably say he was just doing his job, but to me he and his crew are heroes. The weather was appalling up on that mountain. How he managed to get the helicopter so close defies belief.“The fog was so thick at times, you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face. The rain was lashing down and it was howling a gale. He and his crew were so brave to come in that close. If they hadn’t, I think I would have run out of time – Mirror