THE Yorkshire Air Ambulance has got the royal seal of approval.
The Duke of York praised the life-saving project as he accepted an invitation to become the Honorary Chief Pilot.
He made the announcement when he officially opened the air ambulance's new computerised `dedicated air desk' on Wednesday.
Before unveiling a commemorative plaque at its base at Leeds/Bradford Airport, the duke said: "The role of being Honorary Chief Pilot for the Yorkshire Air Ambulance is one I accept with great pleasure.
"I would like to say to the pilot that it won't be long before I do a check ride. I look forward to that!
"It's difficult to describe the work and the value of the Yorkshire Air Ambulance, except, quite simply, that it can deliver people to hospital within the golden hour when it's most needed.
"The work these people do is incalculable and most valuable.
"I wish to congratulate the YAA on its achievements in the first five years of operation."
The duke met staff, volunteers, patients, fundraisers and supporters during his visit to the airport.
The new air desk - the first of its kind in the country - consists of live links to Yorkshire's four ambulance control rooms, improving the speed at which the helicopter can be deployed.
Since the air desk began work last October activation time has been cut from seven to two minutes.
Martin Eede, the YAA chief executive, said:
"The air ambulance is not yet the finished article and we have ambitious plans.
"With the support of the people of Yorkshire we will realise those plans and continue to save lives across Yorkshire for many years."
* The Yorkshire Air Ambulance, which is based at Leeds/Bradford Airport, costs £1.3m a year to run (£3,500 a day) and relies on voluntary donations.
* It has been saving lives across the county since October, 2000. It has flown more than 5,000 missions and taken more than 800 people to hospital.
* With a maximum speed of 154mph the air ambulance can fly patients to a specialist treatment centre within minutes.
* Phone the Yorkshire Air Ambulance's charity office on 0845 120 6060.