NASA Langley assists in drone delivery of medical supplies

NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton was part of another history-making moment.

A small drone delivered medicine to a remote health clinic in Wise County, making it the first government approved drone delivery in the United States.

NASA Langley brought the supplies to the airport on July 17 using its Cirrus SR22 aircraft. It looks like a normal plane, but can actually be flown remotely from the ground. The supplies were transferred from the aircraft and separated into smaller packages that could be delivered by the unmanned drone to the free clinic. The drone made the one mile trip in just a few minutes.

“This first unmanned aerial delivery gave us the chance to do some critical research and mission exploration with our Cirrus SR22,” said Frank Jones, deputy director of NASA Langley’s Research Services Directorate that oversees all Langley aircraft.

A number of Virginia officials, including Gov. Terry McAuliffe, were on hand for the event, called Let’s Fly Wisely.

“Revolutionizing the way we deliver healthcare, we can now get to remote areas, we can get to areas during horrible weather, these drones can fly, so this is the first in the nation to do this,” said Gov. McAuliffe (D) Virginia.

Watch one of the flights:

We are in Wise County, Virginia, for #LetsFlyWisely — an effort to show that drones can deliver sorely needed medical supplies to rural and/or hard-hit areas. Today we ran a practice run. Tomorrow Virginia Tech President Tim Sands and Va. Gov. Terry McAuliffe will be on hand for an official flight. Go Hokies!

Posted by Virginia Tech College of Engineering on Thursday, July 16, 2015