Fri, 17 Sep 2021

OCRACOKE, North Carolina: Drones were successful in delivering vital supplies to a remote North Carolina island during a test this week.

"This is a tremendous first step in better connecting Ocracoke Island to potentially life-saving supplies and equipment," North Carolina Secretary of Transportation Eric Boyette said in a statement. "Today, Ocracoke Island is accessible only by plane or by boat. What we're working on here is an entirely new, third method of serving the needs of Ocracoke's people."

Thursday's tests involved an eight-mile round-trip flight, taking 18 minutes one-way. The test deliveries to Ocracoke included a survival kit, space blankets, chocolate muffins and bottles of water, according to officials.

"This was just a small trial, but we hope to continue scaling this up to larger payloads and longer flights," said Ben Spain, the department's unmanned aerial systems program manager. "Long-term, we could see deliveries coming to Ocracoke all the way from the mainland."

The next test will involve a flight of longer duration, the department said.

Ocracoke suffered significant destruction when Hurricane Dorian struck in September 2019.

Hundreds of residents evacuated their homes, and dozens of structures had to be demolished.

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