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Page 102
AUSTIN EXECUTIVE AIRPORT
A History of Austin's Newest General Aviation Airport
R
on
W. H
enRiksen
Chapter 5
erty, west of Lew's place. I decided to drive
over the easement property, a section of land
with waist-high grasses making it impos-
sible to see ahead. Lew Adams was in the
passenger seat and in the back were David
Hannah III and Frank McIllwain, the trusted
and savvy engineer from Garver Engineers.
As we drove across the easement in my all-
wheel-drive Land Rover, we became mired in
the mud. Lew, a gracious man even in a diffi-
cult situation, climbed out and he, David and
Frank stood in the mud behind the Land Rov-
er and pushed on the bumper. Unfortunate-
ly, I stepped on the gas pedal and spattered
them with mud. They continued to push until
my tires grabbed and I fishtailed my way for-
ward onto solid ground. They climbed back
into the SUV, and Lew and I had a nice chat
about road easements, aviation, Central Tex-
as weather, and the stickiness of clay mud.
We closed on the Adams tract on September
13, 2007.
As I talked to Lew Adams, I nudged Jer-
ry Kahlbau and his attorney to move things
along. Like me, Jerry Kahlbau did much of his
business through one or more corporations.
In his case, KAHL Consolidated Ltd., which
owned all of the shares of Bird's Nest Aviation
Inc. Thus my limited liability company, Travis
County Field, was buying Bird's Nest Avia-
tion, which owned Bird's Nest Airport, from
KAHL Consolidated, all in the ownership of
Jerry Kahlbau. Each corporation had its own
complicated tax and legal issues. Hence, ex-
ecuting a simple property sale involved law-
yers, accountants, realtors, surveyors and
title experts. There was enough paperwork
to fill a 747 freighter.
In August, attorneys for both sides finally
agreed on the terms for the option and pur-
chase agreement. I sent Jerry Kahlbau a for-
mal letter of my intention to exercise the op-
tion, and I immediately contacted my airport
engineering team and asked them to sharpen
their pencils. We closed on September 19,
2007, and I finally owned Bird's Nest Airport.
Taking Notice of the
Competition
With my signature on the closing docu-
ments not yet dry, Ben Guttery, Senior Pro-
gram Manager with the FAA's Texas Airports
Development Office, e-mailed me with bad
news--a new airport was coming to Austin,
and suddenly I had competition. A month
earlier the Colorado Riverland Airport LP, led
by developer Jim Carpenter, had requested
an airspace study from the Federal Aviation
Administration to determine the effect of jet
traffic around Austin, Texas. The proposed
airport with its 8,500-foot runway was part of
a 681-acre movie studio community develop-
ment, Villa Muse, located north of the Colo-
rado River and south of Elgin. The airport was
designed specifically to shuttle motion picture
executives to and from Villa Muse Studios.
Austin, I'm told, is considered by some to have
more writers and directors and other skilled
creative people per capita than any other
entertainment city in the world. Villa Muse
Studios was Austin's version of Universal
City, California, a giant studio community and