AN AIRCREW from RAF Brize Norton who delivered aid to Pakistan have spoken of their experiences in the flood-hit country.

Two C-17 Globemaster planes, operated by 99 Squadron out of west Oxfordshire, carried UK aid to the country’s capital Islamabad after being called in by the Department for International Development (DFID).

The aid – mainly tents, food and health kits – was destined for the Peshawar region of Pakistan.

Last night, RAF personnel said the mission was not without its problems.

More than 20 million people are so far thought to have been affected by the floods, and 1,600 have died.

Flight Lieutenant Jim Thurrell, a C-17 pilot, said it had posed a range of challenges to aircrew, who had to navigate the mountainous terrain while thunderstorms raged outside.

He said: “The C-17 is able to conduct long-range humanitarian missions to any part of the world at short notice and carry a considerable amount of aid.

“We were met at Islamabad Airport by Pakistan Air Force personnel and DFID officials responsible for ferrying the aid onwards to areas where it is needed.”

Sergeant Lee Adamson, loadmaster on the flight, said: “Normally we are out here transporting passengers in and out of Afghanistan on a daily basis, so it was a different challenge transporting tents and medical supplies, including anti-malarial medicine, to Pakistan.

“It’s a different route to that which we normally take to Afghanistan, but the operation went smoothly and the aid was rolled on and rolled off at Islamabad.”

The C-17 is the RAF’s largest transport aircraft, capable of carrying 73,800kg of freight and 138 personnel over distances of up to 8,300km Wing Commander David Manning, officer commanding 99 Squadron, said he expected the crew would be called to help in future humanitarian crises.

He said: “We have so far dispatched two C-17 aircraft carrying 14 loads of aid provided by various UN agencies including tents, food and medical supplies.

“This operation also gives us the ability to look at how flexible air power can be in terms of support to combined operations and in supporting humanitarian relief operations.

“We have done these operations before and I am sure that we will be asked to do them again in the future.”

The head of DFID’s Pakistan office, George Turkington, said: “It’s great that the DFID, RAF and the UN are working together to help people in Pakistan whose homes and lives have been washed away.

“This is the second RAF flight we have called in, this time bringing items for the UN.”