There have been many innovative, unusual and simply strange uses for the Douglas DC-8!
If you know of other interesting DC-8 missions, please let me know so I can share them!


Saudi Royal Family - Former Head of State Aircraft

Type:DC-8-72 (originally DC-8-62)
Douglas S/N 46084, Fuselage 473
One of the most unique and elite DC-8's ever operated. Click the link to take a peek inside this most amazing DC-8 conversion:

Saudi Head of State Aircraft / Hospital


The ORBIS Mobile Teaching Eye Hospital

Registration: N220RB

With a heavily modified DC-8-21 donated by United Airlines, the ORBIS DC-8 Flying Hospital began operations in 1982. American doctors trained in the latest ophthalmic techniques could now teach doctors in developing countries their surgical knowledge and skills through hands-on training and lectures. During its first two years of operation, the ORBIS staff of doctors, nurses and administrators flew to 24 countries and held programs that emphasized the hands-on transfer of ophthalmic surgical skills. In 1994, ORBIS retired the aging DC-8 and a newly renovated DC-10 took off for its inaugural mission in Beijing, China.

ORBIS DC-8 at the Beijing Aviation Museum

The Human Fly

Type: ex-JAL DC-8-33
Registration: N420AJ 
June 19, 1976

The Human Fly, real name Rick Rojatt, lives out the Marvel Comics character on a DC-8-33 cruising low at 250 knots, flown by Clay Lacy at the Mojave California 1000 air races. 


NASA Airborne Science Laboratory

DC-8-72 (originally DC-8-62)
Registration: N817NA

Source: Dryden Flight Research Center - Research Update

NASA uses a heavily modified Douglas DC-8-72 as a flying science laboratory. The aircraft, based at the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, Calif., collects data for many experiments in support of projects serving the world's scientific community. Data gathered by the DC-8 at flight altitude and by remote sensing have been used for scientific studies in archaeology, ecology, geography, hydrology, meteorology, oceanography, volcanology, atmospheric chemistry, soil science and biology. The DC-8 also flies sensor development and satellite sensor verification missions. The aircraft can carry 30,000 pounds of scientific instruments and equipment.

Among the aircraft's features are wing pylons (for aerosol sampling), a gyro-stabilized pointing and tracking mirror system, a dropsonde delivery tube, atmospheric chemistry sampling probes, and several reinforced ports that accept experiments pointing in virtually any direction.
Photo source: 

Coolest Paint!

Braniff DC-8 By Alexander Calder

In a marketing campaign for it's South American destinations, Braniff Airlines commissioned artist Alexander Calder to design a paint scheme for one of it's DC-8-62 aircraft. The custom painted ship dubbed "Flying Colors" debuted on November 3, 1973 just hours after Calder himself hand-painted the finishing touches on two of the engine nacelles.  

More: Braniff Flying Colors Historical Site