Monday, December 3, 2012

EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2012: Orbis International DC-10 Flying Eye Hospital

By Fred Harl
One of my top priority assignments in covering EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2012 for The Aero Experience was to visit the Orbis International Flying Eye Hospital, a 1971 McDonnell Douglas DC-10-10 airborne eye health training and surgical center.  The importance of this feature to our team stems first and foremost from the use of aviation to perform humanitarian work around the world, a service everyone should perform sometime in their aviation career.  Add to that the use of a legacy McDonnell Douglas  (formerly St. Louis-based "Mac") DC-10 and a stop at "The World's Greatest Aviation Celebration" in Midwest Wisconsin, and you have an ideal Aero Experience.  

Orbis International, a non-profit 501(c)(3) charitable organization, brings eye care to developing countries through direct care by volunteers and by educating local professionals to carry on the medical care for future generations.  Since 1982, Orbis International has treated nearly 19 million people around the world, and currently has about 500 active volunteer faculty members and 100 partner organizations committed to projects of at least three years in duration.  Volunteer pilots from Fedex and United Airlines fly the DC-10 to destinations such as Indonesia, China, Philippines and Vietnam, to name a few. 

Orbis International graphic
The aircraft contains a combination of classroom, operating room and recovery area.  Students in the classroom at the front of the cabin and in local hospitals can observe the surgery performed in the aircraft's operating room via data link.  For a dynamic tour of the aircraft, please visit, and for a great video, please visit

Here are some views of my tour of the DC-10:


Aircraft Update: Orbis International will transition to an MD-10, an updated aircraft and airborne medical facility that will continue to be supported by Fedex (the DC-10 is no longer in the service fleet).  For more information on the new aircraft, please visit

Special thanks to the Orbis International ( team for being at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh and for all the work they do.  For more information on what local air medical services are doing, please visit a previous post,      

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