Prince Harry pays a visit to war zone as pilot prepares to end tour

Flt Lt Oli Payne, right, with a colleague and Prince Harry
Flt Lt Oli Payne, right, with a colleague and Prince Harry

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PILOT Oli Payne was met by a prince after flying a sortie over the skies of Afghanistan.

The 29-year-old, from Fareham, landed at Kandahar to be met by Prince Harry as the royal took part in a Remembrance Sunday service over the weekend.

Oli, a flight lieutenant in the Royal Air Force in 31 Squadron, met the royal as he was in the country laying a wreath.

Speaking from Afghanistan, Oli said: ‘He was waiting for us to get back from our flight.

‘We landed back at Kandahar and he was there to meet us at the bottom of the steps.

‘We shut down the aircraft and he was there to shake our hands and was keen to chat to us about the mission we’d just flown.

‘He had great banter and he certainly understands what we do out here.’

He added it was down to him to make sure the sortie arrived back in time for a flyover display.

‘We timed that just right so everybody got to see it,’ he said.

‘Not too difficult but we certainly wanted to get it right.

The visit came as millions of people gathered in this country and abroad to remember servicement and women who have died.

Oli said: ‘He was out here for Remembrance Sunday, that was his main focus.

‘But I think he really enjoyed the chance to speak to us. He was certainly chatting to us on our level.

‘He had a few good jokes.’

Flt Lt Payne is a member of 31 Sqdn, on their final tour of Afghanistan.

It is his second tour, having previously served six months in the country last year. The pilot has two main types of missions, close air support and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions.