Traveling Again

Blog 1:

As many of you know, I have started to travel again. It all started in May 2016. I retired from FedEx after 31 years in Aircraft Maintenance and started with Orbis International the same month. Orbis was launching their 3rd Generation Flying Eye Hospital, a MD10 aircraft donated by FedEx. It took 8 years for the new plane to come to fruition, and June 3, 2016, was the official launch at the Los Angeles airport.

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I first saw the new plane at the San Bernardino airport when it was being painted. The new paint job was beautiful!

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Our LAX Launch was a Hollywood Gala event, with movie stars, doctors and Orbis employees from around the world. We had a reunion with employees and said good bye to the DC10 and welcomed the MD10 with a gala event. Here are photos of the DC10.

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After LAX we embarked on a grueling schedule of Good Will Tours (GWT). We went to McClellan airport in Sacramento and showed the plane to our guests at UC Davis. Many of our Volunteer Faculty (VF) come from UC Davis Medical Center. Here are some photos from McClellan, with the 99s and friends.

dsc_0152 Next we flew to Memphis and I had my first flight on the new plane, it was awesome flying in the cockpit. We unveiled the airplane to our FedEx partners, team members and employees. I even had my photo taken with Fred Smith. I told him it was an honor to work for him for 31 years, and thanked him for the support he has shown to Orbis. Then, he thanked me, and told me how proud he was that I was continuing to work for Orbis and promised to continue his support. I share several videos with Mr. Smith regarding Orbis. Click here to watch the video made a few years ago.

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Val and Fred Smith Memphis was fun, and it was great to see some of my old friends. I’d like to thank you all for your support and all the dinners ya’ll bought for me. Thanks to the Memphis AMTs who helped me on engine #2 with the fuel pump change. Funny that on my very first trip with the Orbis DC10 we flew to Memphis and also had to change the #2 Fuel pump.

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Our next stop was Newark, New Jersey. The maintenance team greeted me and quickly helped with whatever was needed. We had a day off, and I went to New York City to visit the 911 Museum. It was an overwhelming experience and brought tears to my eyes.

 

The next day we flew to Washington D.C, Reagan Airport. This was no easy task. We had to have special permits, flight plans and specific landing/takeoff times. It was very beautiful flying in over the city. I had the pleasure of showing the plane to my friends, Darcy and Karen Reed, who now live near D.C.

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After D.C. we were on our way to Fort Worth. Our hotel was in the old Stockyards area and there were horses and longhorn bulls walking the streets. We did more tours and had the last of some really good Mexican food for a long time.

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Next stop, Moffett Federal Airfield. How excited was I to have the plane in Northern California. My friend Pat, who works really close to Moffett, actually snapped a photo as we were on final and she was outside taking a break. I got to take a couple of weeks off and time to get things ready at home, as I knew it would be a while before I got home again. The airfield at Moffett has been leased by Google and there seems to be a lot of secret stuff going on. NASA Ames is still there, as are the old blimp hangers. Our plane was parked near the 101, and everyone driving by could see it. We got a lot of news coverage and did a lot of maintenance to get everything ready for our first program.

My friends, the 99s and old FedEx coworkers got to visit the plane. I just love to show it off. The new hospital is amazing and will do great things to rid the world of avoidable blindness. FedEx comes to the rescue again with tooling, equipment and manpower. And again I am up on #2 engine. Better here, than someplace with out the proper equipment.

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It’s sure to be a great adventure and I am looking forward to this new phase of my life. It’s been fun to reconnect with old friends and make new friends.

Next stop: Shenyang, China

The best is yet to come.

Val