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Brave Prince William 'flies in 50mph winds with RAF crew' in attempt to rescue man who was blown into sea while walking the dogPrince William joined rescue operation from RAF Valley, AngleseyThe Duke flew Sea King helicopter in search for man swept off Blackpool pierPrince William was on a 24-hour 'readiness state' shift on New Year's Eve
01:56 GMT, 2 January 2013
01:56 GMT, 2 January 2013
While the world celebrated the coming of a new year, Prince William did his duty as a rescue pilot, braving force eight gale winds to join the search for a man swept off a pier in Blackpool.
The Duke of Cambridge and three fellow Sea King crew members flew in from RAF Valley on Anglesey, North Wales to aid in the rescue operation to find a 41-year-old dog-walker who had been sent into the icy water by a wave.
Whilst his wife, pregnant Catherine Duchess of Cambridge, shared a non-alcoholic toast with her family in Bucklebury, Berkshire, Prince William was on a 24-hour 'readiness state' shift when 2013 arrived.
Duty: Prince William flies a Sea King helicopter as an RAF search and rescue pilot and was on a 24-hour 'readiness state' shift' on New Year's Eve when he and his team was called in to help search for the man
Rescue operation: Prince William joined the coastguard in Blackpool in the search of a missing man swept into the sea in the first hours of 2013
Prince William and his team braved 50mph winds to provide light for the lifeboats thrashing around in the 5ft waves below.
The RAF helicopter was called to the scene a few hours into the new year and spend 90 minutes searching the waters off the coast of Blackpool, but were stood down due to the weather, the Daily Mirror reported.
The 41-year-old was walking his dog in with another man when they both ended up in the water from the steps of the South Pier shortly after midnight. The second man was able to get to safety and raise the alarm.
A search was carried out overnight by RNLI and Coastguard crews from Blackpool and Lytham St Annes, assisted by the Lancashire Police helicopter and the search and Prince William's rescue helicopter from RAF Valley on Anglesey.
Mission: After 90 minutes of searching for the man, who had reportedly been thrown a lifebelt, the prince's helicopter was ordered to stand down
Stuart Atkinson, watch manager at
Crosby Coastguard station, said: 'We received a call at 12.13am from
Lancashire Police reporting that a male was in the water near the South
Pier at Blackpool.
search was carried out by coastguard rescue units, the local RNLI
lifeboats from Blackpool and Lytham St Annes and the police helicopter.
'The rescue helicopter from RAF Valley was also there providing lighting assistance for the search teams.
'The area was searched and unfortunately we didn't find the 41-year-old male at that time, but we are carrying out a second search at the present time.
'We do believe a life ring was thrown to him and a football. We have located the football but not the life ring.'
Mr Atkinson said the search operation was hampered last night due to very strong, westerly gale-force winds.
Called to help: The RAF helicopter was ordered from Anglesey, North Wales in to help the emergency services in Blackpool
Ready to help: During a 'readiness state' the Duke of Cambridge and his fellow crew members are never to be further than 60 seconds from their helicopter on RAF Valley, Anglesey
He said: 'As you can imagine, westerly winds are aimed straight at the sea shore at Blackpool and it made it quite difficult for the lifeboat crews to search.'
The current search was focusing on an area of the Irish Sea around the South Pier and the Blackpool sea wall.
A Lancashire Police spokeswoman said: 'The man and a friend were walking a dog along steps leading from the Promenade to the sea, close to the Central Pier on South Shore, when a wave washed them into the sea.'
She said the man was from the local area and the search is continuing.