Sharing the volunteering experience When Gordon Platt had the chance to fly volunteer missions for Orbis just before the Iraq invasion in March 2003, the American pilot jumped at the chance. Having flown DC-10s for FedEx Express since 1991, Mr Platt felt it was a calling for him to show his expertise and willingness to help. It was also a chance for the 59-year-old from Memphis, Tennessee, to see how Orbis, a non-profit organisation fighting blindness in developing countries, operated on board a DC-10. 'My first mission was from Subic Bay in the Philippines, which is a FedEx facility, to Addis Ababa in Ethiopia. Usually we complete around three missions a year and it could be anywhere in the world,' said Mr Platt, a flight engineer for Orbis. Mr Platt felt he had something to offer and that each of us 'owed something' when he took on the role of volunteer. 'I consider myself lucky because I can use my flying skills to distribute eye care throughout the world. I think that this is such a unique arrangement and I really appreciate it,' said Mr Platt, a flight instructor at FedEx. He said a typical mission could be between seven and 10 days and his work usually involved flying from the United States to an undeveloped country. 'When we fly to a destination, I am looking at 12 hours of jet lag so I have to turn my body around. Usually that process takes two or three days. It takes a day or so to move the airplane and then two or three days to get home.' Mr Platt's first mission with Orbis was an unforgettable experience. He flew to Ethiopia and witnessed a young girl gain sight for the first time. 'The first day [of the mission] is usually called Screen Day when they screen people with the [eye] condition. I got to see a young girl who had a genetic cataract. I witnessed the operation to remove it. I was sitting in the operating room a mere guy from the United States and this young girl was seeing for the first time in her life - her father just behind. I can't speak this man's language. We have nothing in common other than the fact that we're humans, yet because I could do my job, his daughter has a future. That's such a stunning thing,' he said. 'I have been flying since I was 23 and I will continue to fly volunteer missions for Orbis for as long as I am able,' said Mr Platt, one of about 22 volunteer pilots for the organisation.