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EAA AirVenture Oshkosh RSS Feed ORBIS DC-10 Flying Eye Hospital Makes Its Oshkosh Return
The ORBIS Flying Eye Hospital
The ORBIS Flying Eye Hospital will make its first AirVenture appearance since 2003.
ORBIS has flown the world since 1994
ORBIS has flown its DC-10 throughout the world since 1994.

One of the world's most unique examples of a humanitarian aircraft, the ORBIS DC-10 Flying Eye Hospital, returns to AirVenture this year.

The ORBIS aircraft, a modified DC-10 airplane, flies around the world each year, working to save sight through hands-on training, public health education, and improved access to eye care in developing countries. Additionally, ORBIS develops and implements comprehensive eye care and blindness prevention programs through its country offices in Bangladesh, China, Ethiopia, India, Vietnam, and South Africa, where there is a significant prevalence of avoidable blindness.

Since 1982, ORBIS has conducted hospital-based training programs in 89 countries, 77 of which were visited by the ORBIS Flying Eye Hospital. ORBIS and its partners have conducted 275 training and service programs in 154 cities and have trained 88,000 ophthalmologists and more than 200,000 nurses and other medical professionals. Worldwide, ORBIS and its partners have directly treated more than 15 million people for blindness-related diseases and conditions. Millions more have received the gift of sight as a result of the new skills that ORBIS volunteers have shared.

The ORBIS DC-10 is scheduled to arrive on Monday, making a flyby at 11 a.m. It will be open to visitors beginning Tuesday morning on Phillips 66 Plaza, AirVenture's showcase aircraft area, and attendees can tour the aircraft.

"I am very excited to have our aircraft on display in Oshkosh. It is the oldest flying DC-10 and the only one I know of with a surgical suite installed in the aircraft," said Bruce Johnson, director of aircraft operations. "I have been to Oshkosh several times dating back to the '70s when my dad took me for the first time, and now to go as part of the show is a great feeling."

The idea for a flying eye hospital began in the mid-1970s when Dr. David Paton, a Houston ophthalmologist, conceived the idea of an airborne, ophthalmologic teaching hospital. He wanted to bring American skills and expertise in ophthalmology to health personnel in developing countries.

The first ORBIS aircraft, a DC-8 donated by United Airlines, took off on its first mission in 1982 as doctors, nurses, and administrators flew to 14 countries and conducted hands-on programs to teach surgical skills. The DC-8 was replaced with the current, fully outfitted DC-10 in 1994.

In addition, FedEx has donated an MD-10 cargo aircraft, which will replace the DC-10 in 2013. A special media event is scheduled for Wednesday to announce the details of the MD-10's conversion into the organization's third-generation, state-of-the-art Flying Eye Hospital.

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