Engine No. 2/vertical stabilizer (“the tail”) of the Orbis MD-10-30F Flying Eye Hospital (N330AU) – Photo: John Nguyen | AirlineReporter
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…
S2-ACR on the ramp at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport – Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter
So, you want to fly on a DC-10 in 2014? Bad news. Very bad news. I hate to tell you, but that ship has sailed. Until a few days ago, that was not the case.
Arriving into Dhaka at 4:51 am, the first thing I noticed was the haze. I really have no idea where it comes from – it seems to burn off by the afternoon. The next thing I noticed about Bangladesh was how easy it was to get a visa on arrival. If you were wondering, Dhaka is only certified for CAT-1 ILS approaches. This has been known to wreck timetables and force diversions to far off points.
The first thing I noticed was that the airport has a great degree of 1970’s Marxist-chic to it. I admit, the airport actually opened for passenger use in the 1980’s- but there were many stop-and-start construction efforts that make it, in some ways, the most amazing the airport was ever (semi) completed.
I had exactly twenty four hours in Dhaka and almost no idea what to expect. Dhaka’s a very fluid city; the buildings may look the same, but the traffic is a variable no one should mess with! Thankfully, the hotel shuttle never seemed to have much of a problem finding either a semi-paved or unpaved road to beat the chaos. The other thing not included in travel brochures about Dhaka is that no matter what hour of the day, someone is riding their car horn.
But I wasn’t in Dhaka for the traffic or interesting architecture. I was there to take the last passenger DC-10 flight ever.
N799AL parked on the ramp in Sacramento
On May 26, 2012, my dream came true.
As adamant as you can be when you’re a child, convincing your family to fly to Hawaii on United Airlines just so you can say goodbye to the last of the narrowbody four-holers is a long shot. Especially when there were fewer-stop options available through Vancouver. I tried, though.
Until February of 2012, I was pretty sure that I’d never get to fly on a DC-8. Then my fortunes changed.
A company called Classic Jet Tours had managed to organize a passenger flight on a DC-8-62CF belonging to Air Transport International. After seeing my friends posting their boarding passes on Facebook, I jumped on it; I paid my fee, booked travel to Sacramento, and began counting the days.