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A new creature will soon be flying over the jungles of Ecuador, and it will have a very specific mission: to deliver small packages to places that either do not have safe landing strips for bush planes, or have an emergency need at a time when a standard airplane would not be able to fly.

man packing uav

Meet Abednego, one in a succession of UAVs named after biblical characters, built by ITEC engineer Aaron Thiessen. Abednego will be delivered to ITEC Ecuador this August. Aaron and his family will be taking the UAV, as well as the components for two more, to build, experiment, and train national Christ-followers in their function and maintenance.

Capabilities and Opportunities

UAVs like Abednego can fly to a designated location, drop a package of up to one pound, and return to their launch point in a fraction of the time and cost of sending a bush plane. The entire flight is pre-programmed into a computer, and the UAV does not need to be controlled from the ground, allowing it to fly up to 80 miles one way, or 40 miles for a round trip.

All four members of the Thiessen family are very excited about the opportunity to get Abednego the UAV (He prefers to be called that, as he feels the word “drone” has such negative connotations) into Ecuador and into the hands of his new owners. Aaron and his family will spend one month helping selected Christian partners and nationals to learn how Abednego works, and how to build additional UAVs, with the goal of leaving behind a life-saving, sustainable system for use in the jungles.

As we see in the news, and even in our own backyards, UAVs are already in use around the world for various functions, and like all new technology, they can be used for good or for evil. These particular UAVs will be able to deliver life-saving medications, supplies, and materials to the many small villages scattered throughout the Amazon jungle, where life and death can have a particularly thin separation.

Jungle Deliveries, Even at Night

uav supplies on tableFor instance, there are creatures whose venom can kill in a matter of hours, and if the bite occurs at night, there is no way to help the victim. When Aaron and other ITEC crew members first tested the idea of using a UAV for jungle deliveries, they spoke with a man who was in tears because he had lost close family members to these poisonous creatures. Because they were bitten at night, he had no recourse to medical intervention.

He was overcome when he saw the package fall safely from the sky as the little UAV turned and flew back to its launch point. His tears were for his own grief, but also for the hope that he would not have to watch loved ones suffer again in the future. He foresaw the day when Abednego the UAV and his brothers would be able to bring medical supplies to the villages when needed, and save precious lives otherwise lost.

There is work to be done, but the Thiessens, the ITEC Ecuador staff, and many others like them are eager to do it. If one more child has a chance to hear the Word of God and grow to his or her full potential, all the hours of development, construction, training and tears will have been worth it.