Virginia politicians such as Gov. Terry McAuliffe hailed the tests as historic and a “Kitty Hawk moment”, as U.S. Sen. “We want to provide hope for the next generation, and July will be a major milestone”, said Jack Kennedy, the clerk of circuit court for Wise County and the City of Norton. According to organizers, the drone will hover over a horse ring at the fairgrounds and lower medical supplies.
The Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership at Virginia Tech oversaw the test flights. Researchers were investigating the aircraft for the delivery of pharmaceuticals and other medical supplies in rural areas, where transportation issues can prevent proper care. In mid-June, it teamed up with Fastway Couriers to organize New Zealand’s first parcel delivery by drone.
The drone delivery is being organized as part of a week long series of “Let’s Fly Wisely” events taking place in Wise in order to “explore the possibilities and implications of unmanned aerial technology”.
“Moving this technology safely into the nation’s skies has tremendous potential to help people and create new economic opportunities”, Tech President Timothy D. One drone was a Cirrus SR22 single engine four-seater converted into a remotely controlled aircraft. In all, the flights covered more than 40 miles. Supplies were then transferred to smaller aircraft, which made several runs between the airport and the final destination, a clinic operated by the Health Wagon, a health care outreach organization, and Remote Area Medical, an global nonprofit humanitarian group. The annual clinic tends to the medical and dental needs of thousands in southwest Virginia.