By David Benda, Record Searchlight, August 2011

AirCover Integrated Solutions, a startup that has developed technology for drone aircraft, will move to Redding to open a research and development office at the airport.

Chief Technology Officer John Swope said the firm initially will employ two people and should open at Redding Municipal Airport within three months.

“We will ramp up to eight or nine employees within the next couple of years,” said Swope, who was a design engineer at Hewlett-Packard before starting AirCover Integrated Solutions with partner James Hill, the company’s president.

Economic Development Corp. of Shasta County President Mark Lascelles announced AirCover Integrated Solutions’ arrival to Redding on Wednesday at the Shasta Builders Exchange.

Lascelles capped the EDC’s “Game Changers: Innovation Mindset in Shasta County” event with the news.

“Ultimately, there will be nine jobs with an average wage of $90,000,” Lascelles announced.

But AirCover Integrated Solutions will not put its manufacturing arm in Redding.

Swope said California couldn’t compete in taxes and incentives with the other state — which he declined to name — in which they will site their manufacturing arm.

AirCover Integrated Solutions expects to start manufacturing its drone aircraft in early 2012.

“It’s not just about business: It’s about jobs, the people, it’s about life,” Swope said of his decision to come to Redding.

Swope moved his wife and three children from Davis to Redding four days ago.

“We prayed a lot about it; we’re excited,” Swope said.

AirCover Integrated Solutions has developed technology to allow drones to land and take off vertically. The drones weigh about 5 pounds and will be marketed to the military, fire departments and law enforcement.

Swope said the company already has contracts lined up, but he declined to say how many or with whom.

“So if there is a crisis or disaster … we can put a bird in the air and get it up to be an eye in the sky in less than 20 seconds,” Swope said.

AirCover Integrated will be able to customize flight systems to their customers’ needs, Swope said.