Douglas DC-8 Cargo Aircraft

Samaritan’s Purse Aviation

  • Since 1975, Samaritan's Purse has used aircraft to transport doctors and relief workers along with tons of food, medicine, shelter materials, blankets, and other items to aid victims of natural disasters, war, famine, and other emergencies.
  • To support the work of Samaritan's Purse around the world, the aviation arm of Samaritan's Purse operates 24 aircraft, including two helicopters, which are based in strategic locations.
  • The various aircraft are specifically used for ongoing relief and development work in remote areas and are ready to deploy when disasters strike.
  • Samaritan's Purse now operates two cargo planes—a Douglas DC-8 and Boeing 757. These enable Samaritan's Purse to respond at a moment's notice by airlifting tons of emergency relief supplies including Emergency Field Hospitals, shelter material, and water filtration systems anywhere in the world.
  • In 2015, Samaritan's Purse added a DC-8 airplane to its fleet. Known as a combi aircraft, it is specially configured to carry up to 74,000 pounds of cargo and 32 passengers, significantly increasing the organization's capacity to respond immediately in times of crisis around the world.
  • Since the organization first deployed it in April of 2016, the DC-8 has carried more than 8.2 million pounds of cargo on 192 missions to locations such as Haiti, Alaska, Mexico, Jamaica, Togo, Colombia, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Italy and Israel.
  • In 2023, the DC-8 carried more than 558,416 pounds of cargo on 11 relief missions.

DC-8 Relief Mission Highlights

Brazil: 2024
In southern Brazil, over half a million people were forced from their homes after heavy rainfall resulted in deadly flooding and landslides that impacted 90% of the state of Rio Grande do Sul. Samaritan’s Purse sent four flights to meet immediate needs in the area. The 757 aircraft transported ten community filtration systems to provide clean water to the region, and the DC-8 transported disaster response specialists with additional relief supplies. Both aircraft made two trips, providing over 90 tons of blankets, shelter tarps, hygiene kits, solar lights, and other supplies to displaced families.
Mexico: 2023
When Hurricane Otis unexpectedly intensified into a Category 5 storm and wrecked the pacific coast of Mexico, Samaritan’s Purse utilized the aviation arm of the ministry to airlift over 90 tons of desperately needed relief supplies on two DC-8 flights and two 757 flights. These airlifts contained community water filtration systems, roofing supplies, shelter tarp, cooking kits, and other essential relief items.
Turkey: 2023
After back-to-back earthquakes rocked Turkey and Syria killing tens of thousands and wounding over one hundred thousand more, Samaritan’s Purse responded immediately with relief supplies and an Emergency Field Hospital. Medical staff treated more than 8,000 patients and performed 270 surgeries. Samaritan’s Purse also worked with local partners to distribute over 7,000 emergency shelter tents and tens of thousands of relief supplies including mattresses, refrigerators, food boxes, solar lanterns, and hygiene kits. Nearly 140 tons of cargo were airlifted on two DC-8 flights and one chartered 747.
Ukraine: 2022
When conflict erupted in Ukraine, Samaritan's Purse utilized the ministry's DC-8 aircraft to transport staff and life-saving supplies to the nation. These airlifts carried items such as our Emergency Field Hospital, clean water systems, and tarp. Samaritan's Purse also established a medical supply program—airlifting thousands of pounds of medical supplies and medications each week— to resupply hospitals and clinics in Ukraine.
Haiti: August 2021
After a 7.2 magnitude earthquake, Samaritan's Purse airlifted 110 tons of relief supplies—including an Emergency Field Hospital and community water filtration systems—to Haiti on four DC-8 flights. Medical staff treated more than 3,300 patients and performed 125 surgeries at the Emergency Field Hospital while reminding patients they were not alone or forgotten.
Ethiopia: February 2021
Samaritan’s Purse airlifted more than 120 tons of critical relief supplies on four DC-8 flights to northern Ethiopia after months of internal conflict left millions of families without access to basic necessities. Teams of disaster response specialists distributed the supplies—including supplemental food kits, emergency shelter material, and cooking and hygiene kits—while providing medical care through two mobile medical units.
Honduras: November 2020
Hurricanes Eta and Iota struck Central America within a matter of weeks, triggering catastrophic flooding and landslides across northern Honduras. Samaritan’s Purse airlifted an Emergency Field Hospital, community water filtration units, emergency shelter material, and other critical supplies to aid to hurting families in the hardest-hit communities.
Armenia: November 2020
Samaritan’s Purse aiflifted more than 22 tons of critical relief supplies and winter clothing—including coats, boots, thermals, gloves, socks, and beanies—to families fleeing the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
Bahamas: October 2020
Samaritan's Purse deployed an Emergency Field Hospital to the Bahamas after an increase in COVID-19 cases overwhelmed the healthcare system. The specialized 28-bed field hospital was airlifted on the organization's DC-8 aircraft along with personal protective equipment and a team of doctors, nurses, and other key personnel.
Lebanon: August 2020
Samaritan’s Purse brought emergency relief to families in Beirut, Lebanon, after a deadly explosion overwhelmed the capital city on Aug. 4—killing some 150 people, injuring thousands, and displacing more than 300,000 people from their homes. The DC-8 cargo plane carried more than 50 tons of emergency relief supplies on two DC-8 flights—including emergency shelter material, solar lights, hygiene kits, and a mobile surgical unit.
Italy: March 2020
As northern Italy quickly became a global epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic, Samaritan’s Purse airlifted more than 38 tons of medical relief supplies, including an Emergency Field Hospital, to Cremona, Italy. In partnership with Cremona Hospital, Samaritan’s Purse medical staff treated 280 patients at the 68-bed respiratory care unit.
Bahamas: Fall 2019
After Hurricane Dorian struck the Bahamas as a Category 5 storm, Samaritan’s Purse made 18 roundtrips from Greensboro, NC to the Bahamas, carrying 360 metric tons of emergency relief supplies including an emergency field hospital, shelter material, hygiene kits, solar lights and water filtration units. Disaster response specialists distributed more than 16,700 tarps and 12,400 blankets, generated more than 1.2 million liters of clean water and treated more than 8,000 patients at the Samaritan’s Purse Emergency Field Hospital.
Mozambique: March 2019
Samaritan’s Purse airlifted more than 70 tons of critical relief supplies, including an emergency field hospital, to Mozambique after Cyclone Idai created widespread devastation—killing hundreds, flooding thousands of homes and leaving some 400,000 people displaced. Medical teams treated more than 5,700 patients and disaster response specialists aided thousands of families through the distribution of food, emergency shelter materials, water filtration units and blankets.
Bangladesh: Dec. 2017
Samaritan’s Purse responded to the Rohingya refugee crisis by sending more than 20 tons of medical equipment—anesthesia machines, an X-ray machine, surgical tables and other critical supplies—to a local partner hospital in Bangladesh.
Caribbean: Fall. 2017
In the months following Hurricanes Irma and Maria, the DC-8 made 44 round trips from North Carolina to the Caribbean—airlifting more than 1,000 tons of emergency relief supplies to islands including Puerto Rico, St. Martin, and Antigua and Barbuda.
Iraq: Dec. 2016
The DC-8 supported the Samaritan’s Purse emergency field hospital by transporting life-saving medical equipment to Iraq as coalition forces and ISIS fighters fought for control of Mosul. Located 11 miles from the front lines, medical staff provided emergency trauma care to more than 4,000 victims of war and performed more than 1,700 major surgeries.
Ecuador: April 2016
After a 7.8 magnitude earthquake shook Ecuador, the DC-8 made its inaugural journey to airlift an emergency field hospital along with key medical staff to Ecuador. In the days following the earthquake, the DC-8 made five trips—continuing to deliver critical supplies.

DC-8 Background

  • Samaritan’s Purse purchased the 1968 Douglas DC-8-72CF airplane from an Australian cargo carrier—just before it was going to be turned into scrap parts—to shorten the organization’s disaster relief response time as it responds with personnel and supplies all over the world.
  • Samaritan’s Purse inspected, replaced, or refurbished every square inch of the airplane to ensure it met the latest FAA standards.
  • Less than 24 hours after the FAA gave the final sign-off, Samaritan’s Purse airlifted an Emergency Field Hospital, doctors, nurses and disaster response specialists to Ecuador in response to a devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake. From this location, medical staff treated more than 1,200 people in need.
  • The DC-8 has a range of 7,000 nautical miles—in perspective, that would be a nonstop flight from Charlotte, North Carolina, to Tokyo.
  • The aircraft is based at a Samaritan's Purse hangar at Piedmont Triad International Airport in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Samaritan’s Purse, headed by Franklin Graham, is an international Christian relief and evangelism organization working in more than 100 countries to provide aid to victims of war, disease, disaster, poverty, famine and persecution. For more information, visit