On the airplane from the Philippines to Dubai

August 2016 was spent at Moffett Field, in Cupertino, CA. We were busy getting the plane ready to fly to China for the first medical program on the MD10. Working on the engines, working on the ground equipment, restocking the medical supplies; the airplane was a hub of activity. We even had to get the final certifications from the FAA. This included demonstrating to the FAA our evacuation plan. So, one day we put out a big blue tarp… this represented the water. Then we simulated an in-flight emergency over water and the two pilots had to evacuate the aircraft with the life raft we carry on board. There were certain time limits and procedures they had to follow, it was all very official as the FAA watched and recorded our actions. The flight crew had to carry the raft down the stairs, inflate it, and identify the items on the raft. This is what it looks like and all the emergency equipment is tied to the raft. I have never actually seen on inflated.

 

 

 

 

After the Feds left, we had some crew training about emergency procedures, and then some fun…..

Pilot Gary is carrying the coffee pot and Captain David is saving the Teddy Bear. Director Bruce, didn’t quite make it into the raft, so we are pulling him in.

 

 

Everyone got out safe, including Teddy. Pictured left to right are our staff; Leo, Antonio, Katie, Ronald, Elisa, Xiao Ying, Dave, Gary, Mohammed, John, Solomon, Gangadhar, Celia and Bruce.

Many friends came to see the plane including the Santa Clara 99s and of course some of my Santa Rosa 99s.

On September 1, 2016, we took off from Moffett Field in Cupertino, CA to Anchorage. We refueled in Anchorage and then flew to Shenyang, China. We had about 20 people flying with us, including some Orbis Board members, VF’s, a FedEx media journalist, Orbis staff and extra pilots.

When we landed in Shenyang, we were greeted with red banners, ladies with flower bouquets, our planning team and so many dignitaries.

There are several write-ups and video links that show off the plane during its first program.

Here are a few to watch.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HS6gX59eMo8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jWFJ2_YBNuo

https://www.novartis.com/stories/global-impact/new-orbis-flying-eye-hospital-helps-fight-blindness-china

Shenyang FEH program brochure_EN_Aug 31

Shenyang Airport

The Volunteer Faculty (VF, Doctors who do the surgery and training), nurses and medical personnel were all very happy with the new hospital. There were surgeries for cataract, retina, and cornea. We were working with the local hospital and the He University Eye Hospital. We had some long days, but all in all the hospital was great. The first day of the program, the medical staff heads to the local hospital for patient screening, this is where they decide which patients will be chosen for the surgery. We select the patient based on several things, first, is it the best ‘teaching’ case. Will the VF be able to show the best scenario for the procedure? Second, is the patient blind in both eyes? Third, are they in financial need? If they cannot afford treatment, Orbis will select them. There is no cost to any of the patients selected; everything is covered by Orbis through the generous donations of our corporate sponsors, and individual donors. For example, for as little as $25, a cataract surgery can be performed and change the life of an individual. Of the people who are blind in the world, 80 percent of them can have their vision restored through a simple surgery like cataract.

Rachel who used to work for me when I was in Beijing, came to visit the plane.

Orbis has Country offices all around the world. The major focus is awareness and fund development. Our new CEO wants the plane to visit these offices and donors every couple of years.

After Shenyang we went to Hong Kong. The Hong Kong office was so great and we had the plane open for tours and media events for 10 days. There were so many donors in Hong Kong that wanted to see the plane; they had to be chosen by random drawing. We had over 3000 people come through the plane. For the past 5 years, the donors in Hong Kong have supported the new plane during its build and development. Some families donated money to cover the costs of the Laser room, the sub sterile room, the admin room. All these people came to the plane and they were so happy to see the hospital and the new MD10. One lady who was in her 80s, climbed the stairs and had so many questions about the plane, she stopped in each area and talked to the staff, asked questions, and made observations. She was so proud to have been a part of this new plane, and so happy to finally see it.

Pictured are the Orbis staff from Hong Kong, the FEH and many much appreciated volunteers who help with the tours.

After Hong Kong, we flew to Macau for more tours and to meet more donors. The flight has to be one of the shortest. We barely took off and we were in the pattern for Macau. The office there has 3 people and a lot of volunteers. We had a great time, roaming around the old parts of the city. The city also has a modern side and looks like Las Vegas. There is one area that is only hotels and casinos. You walk for blocks and never go outside. Lots of high end designer shops, restaurants, and always good people watching.

We had to cut our time short by a day when we found out there was a typhoon headed our way. We packed up all of our equipment in the pouring rain. As soon as our crew showed up, we headed out. The typhoon stretched from the Philippines to Hong Kong. And we were headed to the Philippines! We diverted our flight plan and flew from Macau to Denang, Vietnam, spent the night and left the next day for Clark Airport in the Philippines. Our plan worked, as it was sunny and bright for our flights.

View from my hotel in Denang.

We parked the plane, closed it up and got ready to come home for a break. Clark airport is the old Clark Air Force Base. It is now a public airport and the base is a resort area. There are many golf courses and hotels and casinos. We stayed at the Quest hotel. It’s not fancy, but everyone that works there is so kind to us.

One of our nurses on the plane, Leo lives near Clark. His wife Remy brings us lumpia and pancit every time we fly in or out… it’s so good. It’s always great when family members can see the plane. Leo’s wife and daughter are both eye nurses.

Val