Virginia Tech to conduct drone test in Wise on Friday
Virginia Tech on Friday will conduct research flights to deliver supplies to a free medical clinic in Wise County.
The Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership at Virginia Tech received a Federal Aviation Administration Certificate to conduct the flights.
“This is an example of using UAS technology for a socially significant purpose while also opening up economic opportunities,” Jon Greene, the acting associate director of the Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership, said in a statement. “It is a win-win solution.”
A fixed-wing aircraft operated by NASA Langley Research Center pilots will deliver medical supplies to Lonesome Pine Airport. The cargo then will be transferred to smaller packages to aircraft operated by Flirtey Inc. for delivery to the Wise County Fairgrounds.
Each aircraft weighs only 10 pounds and will lower its cargo via tether.
Flirtey is an Australian startup company specializing in “last-mile” delivery using drones, or unmanned aircraft systems.
The deliveries are taking place during the annual free clinic run by Remote Area Medical and the Health Wagon, a local health-care outreach organization. The clinic typically serves around 1,500 patients.
“This is a Kitty Hawk moment not just for Flirtey, but for the entire industry,” said Flirtey CEO Matt Sweeny. “Proving that unmanned aircraft can deliver lifesaving medicines is an important step toward a future where unmanned aircraft make routine autonomous deliveries of your everyday purchases.”