On June 2, Orbis International launched their new, third-generation “Flying Eye Hospital” on board a converted MD-10-30F donated by FedEx. Orbis is a non-profit non-governmental organization (NGO) that aims to provide advanced eye care and medical training to communities throughout the world without access to such facilities, technology, and expertise… literally bringing the hospital to patients and caregivers who need it the most.
I was invited aboard for a special private tour to see this mobile hospital for myself and learn about more its history, design, and purpose, and I created a short video slideshow of highlights…
Orbis was founded in 1982 and the first Flying Eye Hospital was on a Douglas DC-8. Outgrowing that airframe (along with more difficult maintenance of the aging airliner), a Douglas DC-10 was commissioned in 1994 and served for 22 years until its retirement earlier this year.
Another DC-10 freighter was donated by FedEx, which then converted the airframe into an MD-10 with a glass cockpit, one less person on the flight deck, and enhanced performance capabilities. The aircraft actually remains registered as a Part 125 cargo freighter (and we’ll tell you why later). The Flying Eye Hospital was christened during a weekend gala at Los Angeles International Airport before embarking on a national launch tour around the U.S. The first mission will be later this summer to China.
I met up with the fine folks at Orbis who gave me an all-access private tour before the Flying Eye Hospital took off for Sacramento on the first stop of its U.S. tour. Here is a snippet of what I saw and learned:
All the thought, logistics, and assistance that went on behind getting this project off the ground, as well as the lofty goals and global reach (all puns intended) was mindblowing, and deserving of an in-depth written feature that will be available soon.
For now, thanks for watching and please leave your comments below!
Learn more about Orbis International at orbis.org.