Mercy mission pilot on own patch

Flight Lieutenant Chris Dodd
Flight Lieutenant Chris Dodd
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The pilot of an RAF mercy mission helicopter that delivered a tonne of sandbags to Croston was certainly no stranger to the area he was flying over.

Flight Lieutenant Chris Dodd was back ‘home’ when he brought his Chinook up from its Hampshire base to the flood-ravaged village on Tuesday.

I’ve friends and family who’ve been affected by the floods

For Chris, 32, who joined the RAF in July 2006, is from Euxton.

And though his relief effort might well have been a case of ‘all in a day’s work’, he said he could not help but feel it meant a little more to him than that.

“I’ve friends and family who’ve been affected by the floods,” he said.

“You have a bit more vested interest to get the thing sorted.”

Chris, of 27 Squadron, lives on the RAF Odiham base, Hampshire, with his Chorley-born wife Louise, 30.

Both sets of parents still live in the Euxton and Chorley areas.

Chris is a former pupil of Euxton Primary and Parklands High schools and student of Runshaw College.

Before joining the RAF, one of his former jobs was as an admin assistant at Chorley Magistrates’ Court.

He commissioned as an officer in 2007 and started flying training.

He has been flying Chinooks since November 2009 and in 2010 served in Afghanistan, carrying out five operational tours.

As regards his Croston mission, Chris explained: “We got two hours notice to move.

“We got up nice and early on Tuesday morning. We flew from Hampshire at 5.30am.

“Initially we went to Preston, to police headquarters, where they have the command and control headquarters.

“We had a meeting with the Environment Agency, police and emergency services and had a look at the area to see where we could land.

“Local knowledge came in very useful - knowledge of the area and where things are.”

The Chinook carried four aircrew and another four crew from the joint helicopter support squadron.

“I was in charge of the aircraft and was really happy to get the chance to fly up this neck of the woods,” said Chris.

“It’s also nice to come back home and fly around the area I’ve known for many years.

“I hope we had a positive impact and made some kind of improvement.”

The flight home after the mission - which saw sandbags dropped by the helicopter helping to reinforce breached defences on the River Douglas - started at 4.45pm, with the aircraft arriving back at base at 6.30pm.

“Having got a phone call at 5.30am, it was a very long day,” confessed Chris.

But one he was only too happy to be involved in.