[Pictures: Kerry Roberts]

A BLAST from the past and taste of the future was how deputy chief pilot Martin Shepherd viewed the visit of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to the Caernarfon Coastguard Search and Rescue (SAR) helicopter base.

William and Kate spent several hours at the Caernarfon base on Wednesday.

They were met by dignitaries including the Lord Lieutenant of Gwynedd Edmund Bailey, who escorted the Duke, and deputy lieutenant Janet Phillips, who escorted the Duchess.

During their relaxed visit, the couple viewed the Sikorsky S92a helicopters, costing £30m each, and met with SAR crew, pilots, engineers, technicians, staff and their families with whom they chatted and joked.

Many of the search and rescue personnel had previously worked alongside the Duke at RAF Valley on Anglesey.

Until 2015, search and rescue operated out of RAF Valley and the Duke worked as a pilot between 2010-2013.

They also joined a discussion with crew members about mental health challenges resulting from working as first responders, and met Wales Air Ambulance staff.

“For William it is blast from the past meeting up with old friends and colleagues,” said DCP Shepherd.

“It is also a taste of the future as he will get to see the new state of the art Sikorsky helicopter, which has more tools on board and has heated rotor blades, needed here in Wales to fly in mountainous conditions.”