Pima Air and Space Museum Receives Orbis DC-10

Orbis 1

The Pima Air & Space Museum has added the recently retired Orbis DC-10 Flying Eye Hospital to its ever-expanding world renowned collection.

The Orbis DC-10, Flying Eye Hospital, arrived Monday, November 7 at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base and then was towed to nearby Pima Air & Space Museum. A formal induction ceremony and opening of public static display will be announced at a later date.

“We couldn’t be more excited to bring this significant aircraft to the museum, the Tucson community and Arizona in general,” said Scott Marchand, Executive Director of the Pima Air & Space Museum. “We are honored to be selected by Orbis to be the custodian of this very unique aircraft and to be able to display it to the public and teach visitors from the USA and around the world about its important humanitarian role.”

The Orbis DC-10, Flying Eye Hospital is the result of a unique and lasting alliance forged between the medial and aviation industries. As an airborne eye hospital, Orbis has been able to relocate an ophthalmic teaching facility to airports throughout the developing world. On the outside, the plane is like most other aircraft. Inside, however, it is like no other aircraft in the world.

“Our mission at Orbis is to bring the world together to fight blindness, as we believe that no one should go blind from conditions that are treatable or preventable,” said Bob Ranck, President & CEO, Orbis International. “The Flying Eye Hospital helps us do that. It is in equal parts teacher, envoy and advocate. We harness this powerful tool for change to support long-term programs around the world.”

On its final historic flight to the Pima Air & Space Museum, the Orbis DC-10 will be piloted by the longest serving Orbis volunteer pilot, Captain William Willson, a retired United Airlines Pilot. He will be assisted by a volunteer FedEx flight crew, consisting of: Robert Rutherford, David Hulbert, and Terry Zubrod. Also on board are Orbis Aircraft Maintenance personnel Richard Jorgenson and John Mashino and Orbis’s Director of Aircraft Operations, Bruce Johnson

This particular DC-10, DC-10-10, is the second McDonnell-Douglas DC-10 to be produced. First serving as a test aircraft, the airplane would later go on to be used by numerous other airlines. In 1992, Orbis purchased it and registered it as N220AU. After 2 years of outfitting the Orbis DC-10 took over as the world’s only Flying Eye Hospital and completed its inaugural mission to Beijing, China. Over the next 22 years, the Orbis DC-10 completed 299 missions, and visited 78 countries. The Orbis DC-10 took its final Flying Eye Hospital mission to Trujillo, Peru in September 2015.”

Orbis 2A

Orbis is an international non-profit that brings the world together to fight blindness and equip developing nations with the skills, resources and knowledge they need to deliver quality eye care to all their people. We call on our team of 400 expert medical volunteers from 30 countries to train local medical teams, both in their hospitals and on the Flying Eye Hospital, emphasizing quality and safety standards for patient care.

Built upon a strong foundation of partnerships across the world, we harness the finest talent, tools and technologies to train eye care teams, strengthen healthcare systems and advocate to make fighting blindness a priority.

We span the globe to bring people together—expert surgeons and village doctors, community nurses and traditional healers, health ministers and community activists, global foundations and individual donors—so that we can work as one to ensure no one loses their sight to a preventable, treatable disease. For more information, please visit www.orbis.org.


The Pima Air & Space Museum is one of the largest aviation museums in the world, and the largest nongovernment funded aviation museum in the United States. The museum maintains a collection of more than 325 aircraft and spacecraft from around the globe—including many rare and one-of-a-kind—and more than 125,000 artifacts. Exhibits at the museum include some of the world’s greatest aviation heritage, including military, commercial and civil aviation. Among them are the SR-71 Blackbird—the world’s fastest plane, a B-29 Superfortress—the highest flying and fastest WWII bomber, a rare World War II German V-1 “buzz bomb” and a state of the art Boeing 787 Dreamline. The museum has six large hangars totaling nearly 200,000 square feet of indoor exhibit space. Pima Air & Space maintains its own aircraft restoration center, and also offers exclusive tours of the Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (AMARG), also known as the “Bone Yard” (across from the museum at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base).

The Pima Air & Space Museum is located at 6000 E. Valencia Road, Tucson, Exit 267 off Interstate 10… The museum is open daily except Thanksgiving and Christmas…
For general museum information, please call 520-574-0462 or visit www.pimaair.org.

This article is substantially a Pima Air and Space Museum Media Release about the event that occurred on November 7, 2016. Photos by Bob Shane.

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