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Prince Harry has finished up his helicopter training here in the U.S. and has returned home to England. The Prince spent eight weeks on military bases in southern California and Arizona in Exercise Crimson Eagle, aimed at giving trainees more experience in flying Apache helicopters in desert conditions.
Lieutenant Colonel Peter Bullen, chief of staff of the Attack Helicopter Force at Wattisham, was quoted by BBC News as saying that Harry’s U.S. tour was “a challenging exercise during which students have had an opportunity to practise skills in a demanding environment with conditions similar to those in Afghanistan.”
Harry will now go on in further training at Wattisham’s RAF base in Suffolk.
While we’ve reported on some aspects of the Prince’s U.S. trip – such as his arrival and the nature of his relationship with a local San Diego cocktail waitress – there are other aspects of his trip that we haven’t mentioned. So we thought this might be an opportune moment to look back at some of the highlights of Harry’s time in the U.S.
• Towards the end of his training, Harry made the long-anticipated trip with his military buddies to Las Vegas. But he did it in style, renting a Harley Davidson Softail Classic and doing the entire 300-mile trip from Scottsdale, Arizona to Vegas on the motorcycle.
According to Cirque du Soleil, when he got to Vegas, Harry took in a Saturday evening performance of O at the Bellagio with four friends.
The Prince also visited the Tryst nightclub in the Wynn Las Vegas hotel at around 1 a.m. that Saturday night. The next two nights, he also partied well into the early morning hours at the XS club at another Wynn hotel, the Encore.
But there were no reports of any out-of-the-ordinary antics. “The British royal family has to be breathing a sigh of relief after Prince Harry’s Wild West adventure,” wrote the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
• There was a bit of a media dust-up, started, not surprisingly, by British tabloids, which reported that some folks in the “Wild West” had their own apprehensions about Harry’s behavior. A Sun headline read: “Harry warned: Hands off our women – Prince told to curb partying ways while holed up in sleepy US town.” The Mail and the Sun quoted the mayor of Gila Bend, Arizona as saying: “This isn’t a party town.” According to the papers, Mayor Ron Henry said that the town’s residents “won’t take too kindly to a Prince fornicating the night away and drinking into the small hours.”
Gila Bend’s town manager Rick Buss called the quotations “a complete fabrication.” Speaking to the Daily Beast, Buss said: “The mayor is very upset about all this. We’re honored to have the prince here.”
• Arizona Senator John McCain also seemed to be very pleased to have Prince Harry as a guest in his home state. Early on, the former Republican presidential candidate tweeted a hotel recommendation to the prince: “Prince Harry in Gila Bend, AZ! I recommend the Space Age Lodge” McCain also offered a link about the lodge from the Arizona Republic.
Then, a few weeks later, McCain tweeted again: “Glad to see Prince Harry is enjoying #Arizona” That tweet came after he saw another item in the Arizona Republic reporting that Harry had enjoyed a local restaurant, where he particularly liked the “meat lovers” pizza.
• People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals was not so glad about the meat lovers pizza. Seeing an opportune publicity moment, PETA dispatched two young women dressed only in bikinis adorned with chili peppers to stand outside Harry’s training base, to implore Harry to become a vegan. One held up a sign that read: “Harry, let us spice up your life.” One town hall “source” told the Los Angeles Times: “Poor guy. Can’t even eat a pizza.”
• Last week, Harry took a VIP tour of Universal Studios. According to a source cited by the Los Angeles Times, his favorite rides included the King Kong 360 3-D and the Jaws experience. He apparently rode on the roller coaster, Revenge of the Mummy – the Ride, twice.
• Harry might have been in the States to learn how to fly a helicopter, but he accepted one helicopter pilot’s invitation to take an aerial tour of Los Angeles as a passenger. Commercial aviator Alan Purwin invited Harry on an hour-long helicopter sightseeing ride over the city.
“He really just wanted to see Los Angeles from the air,” Purwin told Us Weekly. “One of my people in my office asked me if I wanted to fly Prince Harry. I said, ‘Sure. Why not? I’ve never flown a prince before.’”
Purwin said he gave the prince a “quintessential” tour of L.A. and that Harry seemed to enjoy seeing it all, especially Malibu.
Harry was an “easygoing, nice guy,” said Purwin.
“I was actually surprised how low key and laid back he was,” said Purwin. “He was just like a regular dude… He’s totally down to earth.”
Click here to see video of the down-to-earth dude getting ready to take off in Purwin’s helicopter.