A teenage pilot-in-training is using his flying lessons to bring much needed medical supplies to rural hospitals in Virginia during the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.
TJ Kim just turned 16 and doesn’t have his driver’s license yet but he has created Operation SOS — Supplies Over Skies, The Associated Press reported.
The high school sophomore from McLean has more free time now that schools are closed and his lacrosse season is effectively over. His goal is to make deliveries to all seven rural hospitals in the state defined as critical access hospitals.
His first delivery in late March brought gloves, masks, gowns and other equipment to the 25-bed hospital in Luray.
“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.”
He recently brought 3,000 gloves, 1,000 head covers, 500 shoe covers, 50 nonsurgical masks, 20 pairs of protective eyewear and 10 concentrated bottles of hand sanitizer on a flight to Winchester to help supply a hospital in nearby Woodstock.
Kim’s father, Thomas, gifted his son a flying lesson for his 15th birthday and is now helping the teenager collect the necessary supplies. His son now hopes to attend the Naval Academy to become a pilot.
Flight instructor Dave Powell praised the young student’s initiative.
“For TJ to be more concerned with the needs of others in his melancholy state just reiterated to me how amazing this young man is,” Powell told AP.