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EAA AirVenture Oshkosh RSS Feed ORBIS DC-10 'Flying Eye Hospital' Returning to AirVenture 2012
First appeared in 2003
The ORBIS Flying Eye Hospital will make its first AirVenture appearance since 2003.
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, will appear at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh for the 60th convention and fly-in slated for July 23-29, 2012, at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh.

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 will be on display at Phillips 66 Plaza, AirVenture's showcase aircraft area, and attendees will have a chance to 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 high costs of tuition, international travel, and accommodations prevent the majority of doctors and nurses in developing countries from participating in overseas training programs. Even when they can afford to study abroad, their opportunity for direct clinical experience is limited because strict licensing laws often prevent them from performing surgery.

The first ORBIS aircraft, a DC-8 donated by United Airlines, took off on its first mission in 1982 when the staff of doctors, nurses, and administrators flew to 14 countries and held programs that emphasized the hands-on transfer of surgical skills. Since then, ORBIS has expanded its curriculum to include ophthalmologists, nurses, ophthalmic assistants, public health workers, and biomedical engineers. 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. The MD-10 will be converted into the third-generation, state-of-the-art Flying Eye Hospital. ORBIS is in the process of raising funds for the MD-10 project so the new airplane can fly its first program in 2013.

ORBIS International is a nonprofit humanitarian organization that works in developing countries to save sight worldwide. Its mission is to save sight through hands-on training, public health education, improved access to quality eye care, and partnering with local health care organizations to prevent and treat blindness. For more information, call the ORBIS development office at 646-674-5500 or click here.


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