Kate looked completely at ease as she sat behind the controls of a flight simulator on Tuesday morning. The Duchess of Cambridge had never flown before, but was told she was a "natural" as she put her skills to the test. She could have put her husband Prince William, a helicopter pilot, to shame with her rapid progress at the training day in Cambridgeshire. Kate was visiting an RAF airfield in her capacity as royal patron and honorary air commandant of the Air Cadet Organisation, roles she has held since December 2015.
Alongside a group of cadets, Kate learnt the basics of flying as she climbed into the cockpit of a Tutor aircraft. She gingerly tried the controls for about five minutes before taking over from Flt Lt Michael Salter, who said: "She was gentle on the controls. Very often people are too rough but she had it exactly right. The controls are extremely sensitive and she was extremely sensitive." Kate told him she hadn't flown before "but she wanted to understand what the feeling was like in the air." Flt Lt Michael said: "She now realises how the controls alter the sensation in the air. She was a natural."
Kate hopped aboard the cockpit of a Tutor aircraft
Kate managed to reach a speed of 60 knots at an altitude of 4000ft. The simulator mimics the performance of a Vigilant motor glider that the air cadets use. Flt Sgt Jordan Avery, 18, who was in the seat ahead of her, added: "Her flying was very good, probably the same standard as I am and I've been on the course for a day."
During the solo engagement, Kate was introduced to air cadets from the Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire Wing Air Training Corps, who were taking part in a personal development training session. The Duchess was dressed casually in black jeans and a red coat, fitting for Valentine's Day.
The Duchess travelled to an RAF airfield in Cambridgeshire
Kate took over from Prince Philip as Air Commodore in Chief two years ago. Tuesday's engagement marked her third visit to the RAF Air Cadets. Last summer, Kate and her husband Prince William visited cadets at an air show in Gloucestershire. The couple brought their son, three-year-old Prince George, for his first official UK engagement. George was absolutely in his element as he put on a pair of ear defenders and inspected the aircraft with his parents. "Mummy, can I fly the Red Arrow now?" he sweetly asked Kate, with William gently telling him, "Not right now."
She met young air cadets from the Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire Wing Air Training Corps
The RAF Air Cadets is made up of the Air Training Corps and Combined Cadet Force. It promotes a practical interest in aviation among both young men and women, providing training and encouraging the development of life skills including leadership and teamwork. The organisation currently comprises 41,000 air cadets aged 12 to 19, and 15,000 adult volunteers across the UK and abroad.