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.

The aviation arm of Samaritan’s Purse operates 23 aircraft, including two helicopters, which are based in strategic locations around the world. The various aircraft support the organization’s ongoing relief and development work in remote areas and are ready to deploy when disasters strike.

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 84,000 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 4.5 million pounds of cargo on 139 missions to locations such as Puerto Rico, Haiti, Liberia, Alaska, Mexico, Jamaica, Togo, Colombia, New York, Tanzania, Bangladesh, Belize, and Mozambique.

In 2019, the DC-8 carried more than 1 million pounds of cargo on 22 relief missions.

DC-8 Relief Mission Highlights

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.

Iraq: Oct. 2019

Samaritan’s Purse airlifted more than 30 tons of emergency relief supplies to northern Iraq to aid displaced Syrian families following a large-scale Turkish invasion. The cargo plane carried water filters, tarp for emergency shelter and winterization kits including coats, boots and gloves to help affected families prepare for winter.

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.

Saipan: Nov. 2018

In the wake of Typhoon Yutu, Samaritan’s Purse conducted three airlifts totaling more than 80 tons of relief supplies to aid Saipan and neighboring Tinian, including emergency shelter materials, household water filtration units, solar lights and hundreds of generators to aid more than 7,600 families.

Hawaii: April 2018

Samaritan’s Purse airlifted heavy-duty plastic tarp, generators, chainsaws and other relief equipment to aid families devastated by the historic rainfall and flooding on the Hawaiian island Kauai.

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 1969 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 SamaritansPurse.org.