First FAA-Approved Delivery Drone Drops Medical Supplies in Virginia

Illustration for article titled First FAA-Approved Delivery Drone Drops Medical Supplies in Virginia

While drones were busy mucking up rescue fire rescue efforts across the I-15 freeway last night, they were helping to save lives elsewhere. Yesterday, the very first FAA-approved drone delivery dropped much-needed medical supplies to a rural popup hospital in southwest Virginia.


Wise County, Virginia’s Remote Area Hospital opens every summer to treat hundreds of uninsured residents in the heart of Appalachia, one of our nation’s most impoverished regions. Typically, drivers deliver medicine by making a 90-minute trip over bumpy country roads back and forth from the nearest pharmacy. But for the first time this year, the clinic’s organizers got a bit of airborne assistance.

First, a NASA plane (pictured above) delivered medicine to Wise County regional airport. Then a drone operated by the Australian startup Flirtey ferried 24 packages out to the Wise County fairgrounds where the clinic was being held.


Flirtey, which already conducts drone deliveries in New Zealand, called it a “Kitty Hawk” moment in a Twitter post on Friday:


Now that’s a use of delivery drones I think we can all get behind!

[NBC News]

Top image via NASA


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This is nifty and all, but it’s really just kind of a stunt. The fairground is less than a mile from the airport. I’m sure a pickup truck could have moved the 24 packages a lot faster.