OSHKOSH (NBC 26) — After a year of battling COVID-19, the pandemic has shed light on the importance of healthcare. That’s why this year the 2021 EAA AirVenture is featuring several humanitarian aircraft that are improving access to healthcare around the world.
One of those is The Samaritan’s Purse DC-8 cargo plane. The plane, which is available to tour throughout the week, has made 147 missions worldwide to provide relief for natural disasters and other emergencies.
"It might be in terms of medical with our emergency field hospital, but it can also be with emergency shelter material, hygiene kits, other things people lose in a disaster and are life-saving items,” said Kaitlyn Lahm, the Samaritan's Purse spokesperson.
The pandemic has only made the work of the DC-8 more essential. Over the past year, Samaritan's Purse was able to use the cargo plane to send large ICU units around the world that were capable of having ventilators for people in need.
"In response to the pandemic, Samaritan’s purse has deployed five emergency field hospitals and those were specially designed as COVID-19 respiratory care units,” Lahm said.
The DC-8 is just one example of how humanitarian aviation has facilitated access to hospitals around the world. Samaritan Aviation is another organization featured at this year's EAA Airventure. The non-profit provides emergency aviation services to remote areas in Papua New Guinea.
"In an area on a 700-mile river, there’s 1 hospital, 250,000 people live there and all those people are one to three days away from that one hospital," said Mark Palm, the CEO of Samaritan Aviation. "So it’s one to three days when you have an emergency or it’s a 45-minute flight in a plane."
This week visitors can tour several of the humanitarian aircraft and see their life-saving work first hand.
“This is an amazing place if you’re an aviation enthusiast. This is an amazing place to come to see other airplanes, to talk to other pilots, and also to learn how aviation is changing the world,” Palm said.
To view the full daily schedule of the convention or purchase tickets, you can visit eaa.org.