Mid-South pilots fly nearly one million COVID-19 testing kits around the country

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Almost one million COVID-19 test kits arrived in Memphis this week, and two of the pilots flying the supplies in were from the Mid-South.

Around 972,000 kits were unloaded from a military plane Thursday. The flight from Italy was manned by 11-person crew that included two pilots with Mid-South ties.

First Lieutenant James Conlan and co-pilot First Lieutenant Bryan Burns both graduated from Collierville High School in 2011.

“I grew up in Collierville, Tennessee. I was raised there since I was about two years old,” Conlan said.

The two C-17 pilots are stationed at McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey, but now have a chance to temporarily return home and be part of the nation’s fight against a global pandemic.

“It’s really awesome to be bringing these supplies to my hometown,” Burns said.

The supplies aren’t just destined for the Memphis area. From here, they’ll be shipped all across the country, helping governments and health care workers quickly identify who’s infected with the coronavirus.

“Getting these COVID-19 testing kits is super important I know,” Burns said, “just to get back to the states and distribute it all around the country.”

This mission actually didn’t start out as a test kit flight. The two pilots were in the Middle East on a different mission when they were redirected at the last minute.

This is the seventh shipment of test kits in the last two weeks. 

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