16-Year-Old Pilot Flies Medical Supplies to Rural Virginia Hospitals During Coronavirus

TJ Kim loads medical supplies into a plane, Leesburg, Virginia.Thomas Kim via AP
Thomas Kim via AP

A teenage pilot learning to fly is helping to ease the shortage of medical supplies in rural hospitals in Virginia during the coronavirus pandemic by delivering them through his flight lessons.

T.J. Kim may be too young to obtain a driver’s license, but he is already on a mission to do good by creating Operation SOS — Supplies over Skies, the Associated Press reported.

The New York Post reported that the high school sophomore at Landon School in Bethesda, Maryland, has more free time on his hands now that lacrosse season is effectively over and schools are closed, so he brainstormed ideas with his family in McLean, Virginia, on how to better help his community.

His goal is to deliver critical supplies to all seven rural hospitals in the state classified as “critical access hospitals.”

His first delivery in late March brought personal protective equipment such as masks, gloves, and gowns to a 25-bed hospital in Luray, Virginia.

“They kind of conveyed to me that they were really forgotten about. Everyone was wanting to send donations to big city hospitals,” he told the outlet. “Every hospital is hurting for supplies, but it’s the rural hospitals that really feel forgotten.”

Most recently, Kim brought 3,000 gloves, 1,000 protective head coverings, 500 shoe coverings, 50 non-surgical masks, 20 pairs of goggles, and ten bottles of hand sanitizer on a flight to Winchester to help stock up a nearby hospital in Woodstock.

Kim’s father, Thomas, gave his son a flying lesson for his 15th birthday and is now helping him collect the necessary supplies for his drop-offs. As for the teen, he hopes to one day become a Navy pilot and enlist in the U.S. Naval Academy.

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