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Redding Airport a Potential Location for Drone-Testing Site

By Robyn Ridpath, Assignment Editor
Published On: Apr 17 2013 08:32:20 PM CDT
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REDDING, Calif. -

Tuesday night the Redding City Council voted 3-1 in favor of joining Ventura County in hopes of becoming a Federal Aviation Administration testing site for drones.

The council approved a non-binding letter of intent agreeing for the Redding Airport to be listed as a potential location before the May 6 deadline.

The letter confirms that the City of Redding Airports Division and Ventura County will enter into a mutual government to government agreement to become one of six Federal Aviation Administration Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) test sites in the country.

The city council considered a non-binding letter of intent with Ventura County at a meeting on Apr. 2. Four council members were not able to reach a decision about the proposed intent so it was brought back to council on Tuesday.

Ventura County applied to become one of six UAS test sites in the United States and asked the Redding Airport to partner with it.

Now, the Redding Airport is one of some 50 sites throughout the country applying and the final selection will be made at the end of the year. The airport would provide assistance with airspace, landing, recovery, and air traffic coordination of UAS operations.

Dozens of citizens and local community leaders gathered at the council meeting to voice their opinions and concerns. Many people said they were concerned for their privacy, uncomfortable with the idea that drones could be flying overhead above their homes.

Ex City of Shasta Lake council member Dolores Lucero addressed the council and warned the council that they were violating citizens' constitutional rights.

Lucero said, "I will make sure that we put together a petition to recall you from office."

Councilwoman Missy McArthur said to think that the drone program might be any more invasive might be false fears and reiterated that this is a non-binding letter of intent.

"We all share your concerns, privacy is a big deal... we want to protect those rights, but these drones are here, let's be a part of the solution," McArthur said.

Even if Redding is one of the six test sites chosen, the city can opt out if it does not agree with the terms of the agreement.