Historic Flirtey Drone Donated to the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum
The Flirtey drone used to make the first FAA-approved drone delivery in the United States has been accepted into the collection of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, where the space shuttle, Discovery, the SR-71 Blackbird and the first aircraft operated by FedEx are also displayed.
The six-rotor drone was used to deliver medication to a rural medical clinic in Wise, VA, on July 17, 2015, after the medication was flown to a regional airport by a remotely operated NASA winged aircraft.
The carbon fiber and aluminum drone has a delivery system that lowers a package in a controlled manner while the drove hovers in place. Its built-in safety features include an automatic return-to-safe-location in case of a low battery, low GPS signal or communication loss.
Through participation from NASA’s Langley Research Center, Virginia Tech and the Mid Atlantic Aviation Partnership, Flirtey’s delivery showcased the massive commercial potential of drone delivery in the United States and around the world. Flirtey CEO Matt Sweeny says, “Flirtey’s delivery was the ‘Kitty Hawk moment’ for the drone industry, and it is fitting that our delivery drone will now be part of the same institution that displays the Wright Flyer.”
“With Flirtey’s leadership, the enormous potential and inevitability of delivery by drone is clear,” continues Sweeny. “Flirtey is proud to be a part of the Smithsonian’s unequaled aviation collection.”
The drone was delivered to the National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, located near Washington Dulles International Airport. The center displays some of the most important artifacts and advancements in aviation history. The drone will be put on exhibit after it has been prepared for long-term display by museum collections specialists.
“This is a tremendous milestone for our team. When drones are as commonplace as mail trucks, delivering anything you desire, people will look back at this as where it all began and be inspired to realize the next great chapters in our dreams of flight,” says Flirtey co-founder, Tom Bass.
Flirtey is continuing its collaboration with the Virginia Tech Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science; the Mid Atlantic Aviation Partnership; the NASA Langley Research Center; the Appalachian College of Pharmacy, Rx Partnership; the Health Wagon; Remote Area Medical; and the Business and Economic Development Office of Wise County, VA. It is planning to expand its drone delivery service in the United States.