Drone makes first FAA-approved delivery with medicine drop in rural Virginia

Updated Aug 13, 2015

In what Australian drone manufacturer Flirtey called a “Kitty Hawk” moment, in reference to the first flight of an airplane by the Wright brothers, the first delivery made by an unmanned aircraft was made earlier this week in Virginia.

According to a report from The Verge, a Flirtey drone with permission from the Federal Aviation Agency flew medical supplies from a regional airport and delivered them to a rural medical clinic in Wise County, located in southwestern Virginia, July 17. In the video below you can watch one of the full flights. Upon reaching the clinic, the drone delivers the package by releasing it via a retractable tether.

In just three, three-minute flights, the drone delivered 24 packages. The supplies are usually delivered in a 90-minute drive over rough backroads. And, according to Flirtey co-founder and CEO Matthew Sweeney, though the delivery was a test flight, the circumstances were in no way a simulation.

“In this area, we had 3,000 people camping out for medical care in cars, blocking single-lane roads on the way to the medical clinic,” he said. “In circumstances with traffic congestion like this, or over rugged terrain, or in emergency scenarios like Katrina, drone delivery provides the fastest and most reliable method of delivery of emergency supplies.”