Find Out More - Flying Eye Hospital
Teacher. Envoy. Advocate.
Orbis proudly unveils its third generation Flying Eye Hospital thanks to the amazing support of friends and partners.
The Flying Eye Hospital is the world’s only state of the art teaching eye hospital on board an MD-10 aircraft. It is equipped with everything needed to unite the world to fight avoidable blindness. The plane provides hands-on training to local eye care professionals in the heart of under resourced communities around the world. Not only does it ensure a sustainable eye care legacy is left in its wake, it acts as a flying ambassador waving the flag for improved eye care services wherever it lands.
The aircraft itself was generously donated by FedEx and custom designed to incorporate the latest in avionics, hospital engineering, technology and clinical expertise. It includes a fully accredited surgical suite, treatment rooms and a 46-seat classroom: a hub for skills transfer, learning and innovation. It has the latest in 3D technology and broadcasting capabilities ensuring that, with your help, we can train more doctors, nurses and medical professionals than ever before.
How did the Flying Eye Hospital Come about?
In the 1970s, Houston ophthalmlogist Dr. David Paton had a bold vision – to use aviation to deliver medical education to the eyes of the world. Motivated by the fact that 80% of the world's visual impairment can be avoided or cured, Dr. Paton recruited a small group of philanthropists, doctors, and aviators – including Betsy Trippe DeVecchi (daughter of Juan Trippe, founder of Pan American Airways) and A. L. Ueltschi (founder and chairman of FlightSafety International) – and established Project Orbis in 1973.
In 1980 Eddie Carlson, former chairman of United Airlines, agreed to donate United’s oldest DC- 8 aircraft to the Project. With a grant from USAID and funds from private donors, extensive modifications were made to the plane to convert it into a fully functional teaching eye hospital. Staffed by a highly-skilled team of ophthalmologists, anesthesiologists, nurses and biomedical technicians, the Orbis DC-8 Flying Eye Hospital took off from Houston, Texas for its first program in Panama in the spring of 1982.
By 1992 the DC-8 was more than 30 years old, and replacement parts were becoming more difficult and expensive to obtain. Orbis programs were also expanding in scope, and it became clear that a newer, larger aircraft was needed to replace the DC-8. In 1992, with donations from three very generous individuals, Orbis purchased a DC-10, which had more than twice the interior space of the original plane.
This Third Generation Flying Eye Hospital is an MD-10 aircraft that can fly nearly twice as far as its predecessor. It only requires two pilots instead of three and incorporates some of the most sophisticated opthalmic training equipment in the world.
Learn more about each room below or take the Virtual Tour here