Ennio Varani

MIAMI – On May 17, 2020, the flight of the Samaritan’s Purse (SP) Non-Governmental Organization departed from Verona around 10 a.m. local time to remain in Cremona, northern Italy, for two months.

The jet took off from North Carolina, U.S., carrying 20 tons of specially developed respiratory and intensive care medical equipment, and a staff of 32 rescuers, including doctors, nurses, and pulmonologist, for the fight against Covid-19,

The flight landed on March 18, 2020, at the Catullo Airport in Verona (VRN).

Ground handling


The aircraft was serviced by the Italian Air Force that ensured the logistical support and facilitated the airport and customs operations, carried out by a team of the Air Terminal Operation Center.

The Gruppo Autotrasporti (Trucking Group) of the local-based 3° Stormo (Wing) along with officials of the Customs Agency were also involved.

In addition, on-site were representatives of the Civil Protection and an SP’s advanced team who had arrived in Italy a few days earlier to carry out a site survey and preparations for the deployment.

Photo: Ennio Varani

Samaritan Purse’s Douglas DC-8-72CF


The flight was operated with the NGO aircraft DC-8-72CF with registration N782SP, departing from Greensboro, North Carolina.

The iconic four-engine long-range narrow-body jet airliner produced by the Douglas Aircraft Company (now McDonnell Douglas) from 1958 to 1972 was built in 1968 and took service, as a cargo aircraft, in 1969 with Finnair (AY).

It operated with AY until 1981 when it was purchased by the French Air Force that flew the DC-8-72 as F-RAFG until 2004.

Photo: Ennio Varani

Samaritan Purse started using the aircraft in 2015, initially maintaining the registration N721CX from 2005 when the aircraft was leased by Air Transport International (ATN).

The DC-8-72CF was re-registered with the current N782SP in 2015.

The aircraft is configured with four CFM International CFM56-2 engines that provide a thrust of 95-98kN each.

As of June 2020, of the 556 units produced, 11 are operational (1.98%): nine in civil operations and two in military ones.