Two U.S. humanitarian aid workers who contracted Ebola while working in Africa were flown from Liberia to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta aboard a specially equipped aeromedical Gulfstream GIII operated by Cartersville, Ga.-based Phoenix Air. Dr. Kent Brantly was transported to the U.S. on Saturday, August 2, and Nancy Writebol was flown back today, arriving early this afternoon at Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta, Ga. Both worked for aid group Samaritan’s Purse.
Registered as N173PA, the former Royal Danish Air Force aircraft is one of only a handful of GIIIs (two of which are owned by Phoenix Air) fitted with a large forward cargo door, which eases patient loading/unloading. In addition to its previously installed extensive aeromedical equipment, the GIII was outfitted with a biological containment system–a tent-like, clear plastic structure that has negative air pressure to keep pathogens from entering the cabin–for the two flights.
According to data from FlightAware, both Ebola patient transfer flights appear to have taken the same routing. Outbound from the U.S., the “Gray Bird” callsigned airplane flew from Cartersville to Lajes Air Base in the Azores to Liberia. Inbound to the U.S., it flew from Liberia to Lajes, then to Bangor, Maine, and finally to Dobbins Air Reserve Base. Both patients are being treated at a specially built isolation unit at Emory University Hospital.